Thursday, September 10, 2009

Talking Head: Fall releases and September events

Posted By on Thu, Sep 10, 2009 at 7:32 PM

The Oktoberfest beers are arriving at a rapid pace, so its time to get warmed up on some strong, malty lagers, even if the warm weather does linger a bit longer in Georgia than it does in Germany. American craft brewers are releasing their fall seasonals as well, marking the beginning of the dark beer season.

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If you want to find out what the fall seasonals are all about, sign up for the monthly beer tasting at The Porter Beer Bar that takes place Wed., Sept. 16, at 7:30, featuring pumpkin beers and Oktoberfests (also known as marzens or festbiers). Six samples will be served for $20. Call the bar at 404-223-0393 to reserve your spot. Speaking of the Porter Beer Bar, the little-gastropub-that-could is celebrating its first anniversary in Little Five Points, a significant landmark in that culinary Bermuda Triangle. They will be celebrating all day Sat., Sept. 12, with 30 special kegs and two casks.

One of the first fall seasonals out of the gate is New Belgium's Hoptober, a surprisingly pale, well-hopped golden ale that has a pleasant crispness and great drinkability. A nice transition to fall weather. It is herewith, the Beer Pick of the Week.

Sam Adams Octoberfest is in stores now and is a solid example of the style. Brooklyn and Left Hand also put out good versions. For my money, though, the German festbiers have a unique malt character that can't be beat. Look for offerings from Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr, Ayinger, and Spaten.

Pumpkin beers are also popular this season. Terrapin's next Side Project is Pumpkinfest, which is slated for a September release. Weyerbacher's Imperial Pumpkin Ale is out now, a high-gravity ale made with lots of fresh pumpkins. Many of the cheaper versions of pumpkin ale only have pumpkin pie spices, so caveat emptor. I find these beers to lack the body necessary to carry the spice flavors. I'm still waiting for someone to duplicate the baked, biscuity flavor of a pumpkin pie crust, as well.

September means, of course, Oktoberfest celebrations (the official event in Munich starts in September), when people with no German heritage dress in lederhosen, hoist giant steins of beer and listen to polka music. Conveniently, it falls almost exactly 6 months from St. Patrick's Day, a similar celebration for people with no Irish heritage. No matter. Drinking beer is fun, and watching silly drunk people just makes it all the better.

The mother of all Georgia Oktoberfests is the two-month celebration in Helen, the mountain town-cum-Alpine village that has the longest continuously running Oktoberfest in the United States. The Festhalle features German beer, food, and music every Thurs.-Sun. in September and every night in October. The festival actually features some excellent German beers. For details check out the Helen Chamber of Commerce website.

Max Lager's downtown will be tapping its Octoberfest on Sept. 19. The party will feature live music, drawings, and complimentary appetizers. Call 404-525-4400 for details.

Look for more Oktoberfest celebrations in the coming weeks.

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