Oktoberfest Outdoors: Beer tasting to launch the Fall

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According to the website NationalDayCalendar.com, September 28th, 2016 is National Have A Beer Day. This coincides with the end of the annual Oktoberfest celebrations in Munich, Bavaria, Germany (yes, the end - years ago the festival was moved up a few weeks to take advantage of the warmer September weather). The first weekend of October is the closing of the official Oktoberfest, but it’s still a good time for us to break out the brews and party on the patio.

A “bier” tasting can be more casual than a wine tasting event. Any grilled food like kebabs or chicken breasts along with some baked potatoes will provide a good base for frothy brews. A traditional Oktoberfest meal would include bratwurst with sauerkraut, potato and beer soup, and fried apple pie.

A fun approach to a beer tasting event would be to offer a selection of varieties from one brewery. Microbreweries offer a “tasting menu” of their beers, presented in shot glasses arranged in a line on a natural stone “flight,” a tray made specifically to hold glasses. No need to take such fancy steps, though. Shop at a kitchen supply store where glassware is inexpensive. Present the beers, poured in the clear glasses (to see the color) along the counter of your outside bar, atop your garden wall, down the center of your patio table. Little cards with the beer name are placed by each group of glasses or place the bottle cap next to each glass.

Beer, like wine, comes in a wide variety of styles but they all basically fall into 2 main types: ales and lagers. The key difference is the yeast used to ferment the drink. Some beers under the ales category are India Pale Ale (IPA), light ales, porters, bitters, browns, and stouts. Lagers can be either dark or pale and include the well known Pilsners and perhaps more obscure Dunkel styles. Most beers in this country are lagers, as this type of brew can be stored in cold temperatures for a long period of time and still keep its flavor.

Many states have microbreweries that will be happy to offer tips on pairing foods or snacks with their beers, but you don’t have to fuss. National Beer Day and Oktoberfest are more about the company than the quaffs, don’t you think? Fire up the grill, load up the fire pit and let the beer flow. It’s all about having a “gute Nacht” outdoors with friends.