It's not quite October, but it's certainly Oktober in Chicago. Oktoberfest is upon us once again, entrancing the city with all its beers, brats, and German gaiety. There's lots to do, see, eat, and drink this year, so call up your designated driver, loosen the belt, and get to it. Here are a few ideas to get you started at local Chicago restaurants:
Oktoberfest is all about the sausages, kraut, schnitzel, and spaetzle. Get your fix at any of the Bottleneck Management locations September 23 through October 6. This includes Howells & Hood, Sweetwater, South Branch, The Boundary, and Old Town Pour House. All spots are offering a handful of Oktoberfest-y specials, including potato pancakes with housemade cinnamon applesauce, smoked bratwurst with roasted sweet apples, onions, and sauerkraut, and Wienerschnitzel with buttered spaetzle and Meyer lemon reduction. Looking to pair those plates with beers? Of course you are. Especially at Howells & Hood and Old Town Pour House, where the beer programs are second-to-none, servers are well-versed in the art of beer pairings and the art of getting you tipsy.
A unique Oktoberfest offering to put on your radar can be found at Le Bar, the posh nook inside the Sofitel Chicago Water Tower. Rather than slosh German brews down patrons throats, Le Bar takes a classy French approach to the seasonal shindig, offering a unique beer flight from Brasserie Artisanale du Luberon. This French, small-batch beer is made in the methode Champenoise, a Champagne-like process wherein the beverage is triple-fermented and finished in the bottle. The flight includes the Blanche, Blonde, Ambrée, and Brune brews, all served in distinct glassware. The flight costs $16, or guests can also order the bottle of any of the beers for $36. Brasserie du Luberon beers also happen to be organic, so stick that in your cap.
Oktoberfest at a Mexican-style saloon may seem sacrilege, but not when "Das Boot" is involved. High Noon Saloon features the hefty beer-filled boot now through October 6. It's an 80-ounce beer boot stein that can be filled with domestic beer for $20 or an import/craft beer for $26. The latter includes options such as Southern Tier Hop Sun, Revolution Anti-Hero, Goose Island Green Line, and of course, Hofbrau Oktoberfest.
Come October at Public House, the bar's "Clock Out, Tap In" brewery series will feature an impressive Oktoberfest lineup throughout the month. A different brewery will be on deck each week, offering guests the chance to sample new brews all month long, and vie for fun prizes while doing so. A new beer appears every Thursday, accompanied by a new competition. October 3 features a Sam Adams National Stein Hoisting Competition for the chance to win a trip to Oktoberfest 2014 in Germany. October 10 is OctoBEARfest, wherein a slew of beer and brat pairings will be offered during the Bears vs. Giants game. The winner of the raffle prize earns a VIP experience and tour of Revolution Brewery. October 17 is Taste of Germany, complete with $25 YouSwoop tickets that enable guests to sample different German beers and a one-liter stein of their choosing, which they get to take home along with other treats. Barley's Angels takes place October 24, a collaborative event with Gilt City and CS Magazine. Finally, pumpkin ales take the spotlight on October 31, with Public House offering a variety of pumpkin ales from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. that are tapped out of goddamn pumpkins!
(Get your brat on)