I love making beer. I love drinking good beer. I love enjoying beer with other people.
Oktoberfest is the trifecta, allowing me to experiment with an Oktoberfestbier, drink that and other local brews, and throw a very large party for no reason other than Octobericity. (So that's a word now.)
This time of year really appeals to me. The weather generally makes me feel like I'm back in the Northwest rather than south of the Mason-Dixon line. The start of leaves changing colors and the shortening days make me feel like we've finally left summer bugs and lawn mowing behind.
As with the last two years, it's also an excuse to have an Oktoberfest party. Each year the flavor changes slightly, depending on weather, attendees, quality of beer, and the state of our house, but every year has been entertaining enough to make a repeat inevitable.
In 2012, we started planning our first Oktoberfest about a month early. I had a couple homebrews to get through, but I had yet to expand the volume to 15+ gallons at a time. The general plan was to do a tasting, where attendees could sample from any of something like 5 or 6 craft beers, as well as drink through my remaining stores from the year. At the time, my youngest daughter was just 7 months old, and our oldest was barely over 3.
We planned on the moonbounce, but the weather didn't cooperate. At all. Instead, I had to buy the biggest tarp sold at Home Depot along with some high-quality rope and string up a makeshift cover for our deck between our oak tree and some closets on our top floor. That was the only way to get all those people comfortably in our space, but it also meant occasionally clearing the pooled water. In spite of the horrible weather, the crowd was large -- and felt larger due to the confinement -- and we had a great time.
Fast forward a year, and with a slightly earlier start date, we held that party during a warm weekend in late-September. Rain didn't hit, I served the variety of homebrew from the basement (still no Oktoberfest!), and the crowd seemed far more fluid, ebbing and flowing as the evening went on to provide about 6 hours of uninterrupted partydom.
This year, we got the house kitted out with a large screened porch, so rain was never going to be a problem. (The tarp may have wept, but it was in the shed, so I could ignore it.) We were lucky enough to have a cold front move through the day before the party, which pushed daytime temps down to a comfy mid-60s and overnight temperatures into the upper 40s.
Something like 30 adults and about half that many children rolled through the house over 5 or so hours. Excellent population variety and great conversation made it an event that hopefully everyone else enjoyed as much as I did.
As a first this year, I also made a specific Oktoberfest. We started the night with 3 cases of that on the deck, plus 3 or 4 commercial cases in case things got out of hand.
I'm often pleased with the beers that I brew, but this one came out dead on, everything I wanted it to be. Its only negative? Slight overcarbonation. But I'll take that with a spectacular Oktoberfestbier any day. And in spite of going through 2.5 cases of beer total, we were still left with a case and a half of the Oktoberfestbier left over.
I can hardly wait for next year's. For now, I'll have to take solace in our copious amounts of leftover beer.
Mash out. Spin on.