The second annual Dimond Oaktoberfest was even bigger than last year’s event. Unfortunately, I could stay only for a few hours, because I was also planning to attend the 99 Bottles of Beer beer symposium and beer fair at Hearst Museum at UC Berkeley. More on that later. Of course, a lot worse things could happen than having multiple major beer celebrations on the same day.
The Dimond District had quite a few German Biergartens back around the turn of the century. The closest thing we have today in our neighborhood is Oaktoberfest. However, a fantastic group of businesses have opened in the past few years and the heavy retail traffic will hopefully bring us a brewpub like establishment.
The Oktoberfest event itself was free and very well organized. There were the traditional booths filled by non-profits, school groups, commercial sponsors and local businesses. The Bill Brand Memorial Biergarten was a lot bigger than last year’s biergarten, with a lot more participating brewers. The Mad Zymurgists showed up and handed out free samples of homebrew, as well as ran a homebrew contest.
I decided to spend $20 on a souvenir stein with 10 tastes and 2 full beers, instead of 4 full beers. This turned out to be a very savvy move, as the alleged 2 ounce tastes ended up being anywhere from 4 ounces (the mark on the glass) to 6 ounces. I think none of the people pouring wanted to look cheap by offering just a tiny taste. I salute them.
I started with a Bison Brewing (not listed on the t-shirt, but definitely there) Reunion Double Wheat. It’s a pretty powerful wheat ale with a lot of carbonation and a distinct lemon flavor with subtler coriander and orange aroma. I would definitely drink it again.
Then I went for the Orange Kush Wit Beer from Ale Industries. A little googling on the beer’s name suggests an, uhh, unusual possible ingredient. I just tasted hops, though. And, my god, the surprisingly orangelicious flavor. I’m thinking they didn’t just stop at an orange peel or two. Florida called and they want their crop back.
Next was the Iron Springs Oktoberfest. I didn’t like this quite as much I expected I would, though it was a pretty straightforward Märzen. I’ll try it again another time to make sure it wasn’t me with crazy expectations for the first Märzen of the day. It was probably me.
I probably went for the Linden Street Brewery Urban People’s Lager too early, as I wasn’t quite ready for the hop bite, which was stronger than I remembered. Maybe it was the food I was finishing off that wasn’t working, because by the last swallow of beer, I was really enjoying the lager. My glass was once again empty, but my palate felt crisp and clean.
The Beach Chalet Ocean Beach Oktoberfest seemed more like an amber ale than a Märzen. It was a little sweeter and less spicy than I was expecting. This was my wife’s favorite. It was pouring with huge carbonation, but not as much as Drake’s tap, which sprang a leak and nearly sprayed our backs. So sad to watch so much beer spray pour onto the ground. I thought about doing a Homer and diving (in slow motion, of course) with mouth wide open below the cooler. If I had been out of beer tickets, that would absolutely have been me.
I headed over to the corner of the tent for a Thirsty Bear stout. I’ve had the Kozlov stout at the brewery a few times, but this tasted different. Of course, maybe that’s the five previous beers talking. Seemed a little bitter for an Irish stout. Otherwise, silky smooth with a very creamy head.
On the way out I scored a Rubicon Amber. Very sweet malt with tons of caramel. If they told me they juiced the fermenter with a couple bags of those cubic caramel candies that I seem to see only at Halloween, I would totally believe them.
But it wasn’t just about the beer. I had parts of two delicious, soft pretzels with mustard from La Farine Bakery, part of a ground beef meat pie my wife picked up from some vendor and a boar sausage. I would have gone for the La Farine apfelstrudel, but I was feeling a little full by the end.