Carolina Beer Guy: Oktoberfest invades summer

EARLY BIRD: Highland Brewing Co. will release Clawhammer Oktoberfest on Friday, Aug. 11, at its East Asheville taproom. Photo courtesy of Highland Brewing Co.

It’s only August and family summer vacations are still underway. But in the beer world, it’s time to roll out the first Oktoberfest brews — those rich, malty, amber-orange beers that were first made in Munich, Germany, in 1810 to celebrate a royal wedding and have become incredibly popular in the U.S.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. presents its Oktoberfest brew Thursday, Aug. 10, with a release party from noon to midnight at the Thirsty Monk pub at Biltmore Park. In addition to sampling the beer, attendees can take home a stein glass.

Sierra Nevada collaborated with Brauhaus Miltenberger of Miltenberger, Germany, for the latest entry in an Oktoberfest series that dates to 2015. Each year, Sierra Nevada has teamed with a different German brewer to make the beer.

Then on Friday, Aug. 11, from noon to 10 p.m., Highland Brewing Co. will release its annual Clawhammer Oktoberfest with an event at its taproom featuring music by Snake Oil Medicine Show. Highland founder Oscar Wong says there is great demand for Clawhammer and that the brewery needed product to replace its summer seasonal, Big Briar Tart Raspberry Ale, which he notes is in short supply. One of two true lagers made by Highland, the Oktoberfest is aged for seven weeks and will be sold on draft and in 12-ounce bottles. It will be followed in early November by Cold Mountain Winter Ale.

Other Oktoberfest celebrations:

  • Hi-Wire Brewing’s Oktoberfest takes place Saturday, Aug. 26 from noon to 5 p.m. at its Big Top production brewery on the edge of Biltmore Village. Admission is free for the kid-friendly event, but a custom stein and 33 ounce pour cost $15. Additional 33 ounce Hi-Wire brews will be sold for $7 each, including the Great American Beer Festival gold medal-winning Zirkusfest Oktoberfest Lager  There will also be games and a hot dog eating contest.
  • Sierra Nevada hosts its annual Oktoberfest on Saturday, Sept. 30 from 5-10 p.m. at its Mills River brewery. Activities include pours of Sierra’s Oktoberfest beer, a German feast, music, a glass-blowing demonstration, the Chicken Dance and more. Tickets, sold online only, are $45 and include food, a beer stein, one drink and a pretzel.
  • The Asheville Downtown Association’s annual Oktoberfest gets a new date this year: Saturday, Oct. 7, from 1-6 p.m. at Pack Square Park. The party has 28 breweries confirmed and each may bring up to four beers including a seasonal, according to the Downtown Association’s Meghan Rogers. The entertainment has not yet been announced, but Rogers says the Chicken Dance will return, as will a stein hoist competition. Tickets are $40 and available online. Admission is free for ages 7 and younger. For ages 8-21 and designated drivers, tickets are $5.

Follow Tony Kiss on Facebook at Carolina BeerGuy and on Twitter at BeerGuyTK


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About Tony Kiss
Tony Kiss covers brewing news for the Xpress. He has been reporting on the Carolina beer scene since 1994. He's also covered distilling and cider making and spent 30 years reporting on area entertainment. Follow me @BeerguyTK

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