As we approach the last few months of the most “interesting” year of the 21st century, we are still holding out hope for our yearly traditions. Halloween décor is ubiquitous as ever, the harvest moon is still coming, and the annual occurrence of our autumnal “second summer” is at its peak. Why would we dare put our lederhosen and beer steins away?
Oktoberfest. A festival I’ve only dreamt about attending. I’ve heard so many stories over the years of what happens inside the tents. Large communal tables shared by travelers and locals. Meeting new people while celebrating a local tradition. A travel junky’s dream. And let’s not forget the imbibing of beer from 6 Munich breweries, all delightfully golden with a beautiful amber glow. Perfect for a California heat wave. September 19th would’ve been the start of the 187th annual Oktoberfest, ending October 4th. With international travel canceled and still no end to COVID, the festival has been canceled. But that shouldn’t stop us from exploring this German tradition and celebrating in the Golden State.
But what brew should you reach for? When we think of popular beer styles in California, IPAs and pale ales appear to have taken claim of this large state. And although Sierra Nevada offers an Oktoberfest beer, I would suggest we stick with something more authentic. No need to cross the Benicia Bridge or go hunting far and wide for a bottled, imported beer. Simply place an order with our local brewers at Bruehol Benicia Brewing.
Bruehol holds a special place in their hearts for German style brewing. Their portfolio consists of Benicia Brewed Ales, Lagers and special releases; and their owners have authentic connections to Deutschland. Mark Keller, whose name translates to ‘Cellar’ and historically would have designated him as a cellarer in the profession of brewing or winemaking, runs the brewery along with his business partner and fiancée Natalie Boltz, who was born in Koln during the time of unrest leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall. It’s safe to say that the love and respect for their German heritage is shown through the historically relevant recipes they use to create the unique beer offerings at their Benicia taproom.
We asked Natalie what they offer and what they suggest to our readers this season.
“Each year we offer something for Oktoberfest and, though COVID-19 has prohibited the opportunity to host our annual party, we will have seasonal releases you can purchase at the taproom. Currently the 32oz crowler cans are the only option for to-go beer, but with the loosening of the regulations surrounding the COVID-19 restrictions, hopefully growler fills can be resumed soon. Making its annual appearance is the fan favorite Smoked Helles Lager as well as the Matthew Turner Marzen. This winter, Bruehol plans on releasing its first Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout, aged in Kentucky Bourbon Barrels.” – Natalie Boltz
Now that we have the beer figured out, let’s get into the food. We want to stay traditional, but not all of us have the time to make bread dumplings. I found a recipe for some juicy Bratwurst on MiddleburyCoop.com.
- 1 package Bratwurst
- 4 T sunflower or canola oil
- 1 local yellow onion, chopped
- 4 C local red cabbage, shredded
- 2 tart local apples, cored and thinly sliced
- 1/2 tsp caraway seed
- 2 T apple cider vinegar
- 1 lb small local potatoes, halved
- 1 C local beer (Bruehol)
- salt & pepper, to taste
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until it begins to turn clear, about 5-8 minutes. Add cabbage, apples, vinegar, and caraway seeds and mix to combine. Place sausage links and potatoes on top of the cabbage mixture, season with salt and pepper, then pour the beer over top. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a low simmer. Cover and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes. Serve with local mustard
I hope this brings the Oktoberfest celebration to the comfort of your home.
Make sure to check out the Bruehol Brewing website for their list of current beers, merchandise availability, and to place your order for crowlers which sell for $15/each or a 3-pack for $40. Drive-up sales are also an option. Be sure to follow @bruehol on both Instagram and Facebook for up to date information!