Beers, Brats and Chicken Hats at the Columbus Oktoberfest

Welcome to Oktoberfest!

Last night I attended the opening of the Columbus Oktoberfest, held at the Ohio Expo Center.

When I arrived, the Meiler Vier (the fourth annual four-mile run that kickstarts the festivities) was in full swing. Folks were dressed in a variety of costumes or running gear. Once the race ended, I spoke to a trio wearing full-body beer bottle costumes. They said while it was a challenge to run a 4-mile race as a beer bottle, the rewards they snagged made it well worth the effort. Each participant walked away with an event t-shirt, medal, and a free beer plus a World Famous Sausage and Cream Puff.

Speaking of cream puffs, if you haven’t had a cream puff from Schmidt’s Restaurant and Sausage Haus you need to pay a visit to their restaurant in German Village and get yourself one! They’re as big as your kid’s head and full of awesome creamy goodness.

The Beer

Brooklyn Oktoberfest

Brooklyn Oktoberfest

The first line of business when arriving at Oktoberfest should of course be BEER. After working our way through the runners, my beer drinking companion and I headed into the Heidelberg Bier Hall to purchase 30 tickets each (plenty for a couple mugs of beer and a snack) then made a beeline for the Oktoberfest beer station. There was also a station for  a regular domestic brand – but any true beer drinker would avoid anything you can easily snag in a 12-pack at a gas station – just sayin’!

Available Oktoberfest brews included choices from:

  • Paulaner
  • Bitburger
  • Hofbräu
  • Brooklyn Brewery

I went with the Brooklyn Oktoberfest beer to start, and I have to say it was quite tasty. It poured with a solid head, dark copper color and was very drinkable (I should know – the mugs sold at Oktoberfest are 32oz!).

Happy about Hofbräu

The second beer I sampled was the Hofbrau Oktoberfestbier. It poured a pale gold with minimal head, and was lighter than the Brooklyn in body, crisp and smooth. I personally preferred the heavier malty taste of the Brooklyn, but you’ll just have to try them and decide for yourself! There were descriptions posted beneath each of the taps at the station, so you can read about each before you choose.

The Brats

There was an array of delicious-smelling meats and decadent desserts available in both the Heidelberg Bier Hall and the Budweiser Prost Hall. Beer brats, Schlamager brats and even deep fried brats abounded. There were also choices of chicken, BBQ pork or ribs, steak on a stick or even fried German bologna.

I personally headed for the desserts and ended up scoring a wonderful pumpkin roll from All About The Zel’s, who were kind enough to give me the roll for 4 tickets instead of 5 (as I’d spent the rest on beer).

The Chicken Hats

Chicken hats for everyone!

Oktoberfest is an interesting mix of folks running around in costumes, peculiar hats, and engaged in general shenanigans. I for one, noticed vendors walking around selling an assortment of chicken hats. While I’m always up for a good hat purchase, I found them a bit over the top. However, a friendly gentleman noticed my interest and offered to go 50/50 on the cost if I would wear a chicken on my head the rest of the evening. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a challenge.

Alpine Horns

Overall, I’d say the Columbus Oktoberfest warrants a visit to sample the beers and do some interesting people (and costume) watching. It’s family- friendly, but a bit pricey. Parking costs $8 a car, although it’s free to enter the event. Beer you get for your buck is average, with a filled 32oz mug costing 15 tickets ($15), and refills costing 10 tickets. I’d recommend going with a group to carpool, and while there are two stages, games (such as cornhole) and other events, we found it to be a bit anticlimactic overall. Expect to create some of your own entertainment – such as waging bets about wearing chicken hats.

Oktoberfest runs through the weekend opening Saturday at noon and running until midnight, and is also open Sunday from noon until 8pm. To read all the details and for directions, you can visit the official Columbus Oktoberfest website.


Oktoberfest in … September??

What is Oktoberfest?



Oktoberfest is a large festival held in Munich, Bavaria, Germany from late September through the first weekend in October. Originally a celebration first held in 1810

to celebrate a royal wedding, the horse races that were part of the festivities were held again the subsequent year, thus starting the tradition that has evolved into what we now know as Oktoberfest.

Oktoberfest in … September?

Ever wonder why Oktoberfest actually starts in September? Well, you can simply blame it on Mother Nature. October weather in Germany is often rainy, grey and cold, so a few years after the festival was started, the date was moved to ahead to span most of late September but still end in the last weekend of October (to uphold tradition). So now you can have your beers and good weather too!

Beer 101: What IS Märzen/Oktoberfest Beer?


Märzen Beer

Märzen, also known as Oktoberfest or Märzenbier, originates from early times before the invention of refrigeration. The beer was typically brewed in March (Märzen means March in German), stored throughout the warm summer months to avoid bacterial contamination, and then consumed in the fall (September/October).

Märzen is member of the lager family, which means the beer is fermented cool and stored (in other words “lagered”) at cold temperatures for an extended period of time. It is generally assumed that brewers were fermenting the beer in natural caves or perhaps cellars dug into the limestone hillsides. This style of beer originates from Bavaria and surrounding regions.

The common Märzen/Oktoberfest beer contains 5.0-6.0% alcohol, is amber to pale copper in color, and has a malty sweetness that is balanced with mild hops. It should have good carbonation and low-to-medium bitterness. The style has been changing over the years, however, so it is not uncommon to find brew variations that are paler and drier to accommodate the larger international audience and modern tastes. It is served in a pint glass or mug.

Beers Sold at Oktoberfest

The only beers that may be sold at the Munich Oktoberfest must be original Munich beers that follow the strict adherence of the “Reinheitsgebot” (Bavarian Purity Requirements) and that are brewed by authorized breweries of Munich. However, if you happen to live in the U.S., many American breweries brew their own versions of Oktoberfest beers – there is definitely no shortage of choices to sample.

Märzen History

Märzen officially became a fixed style in 1841, when the Spaten Brewery of Munich introduced the first lager officially labeled as Märzenbier at that year’s Oktoberfest. In 1872, the Spaten Brewery specifically brewed another Märzen-style beer for that year’s Oktoberfest, appropriately dubbed Oktoberfestbier. The name and general recipe stuck from there and you’ll see many beers labeled with “Oktoberfest” in the U.S. and other countries. In Germany, however, the name Oktoberfestbier is legally reserved for only six breweries who many serve their beers at the Munich Oktoberfest. All other breweries may only use the Märzen designation for like-style beers.

There is not a great distinction between Märzenbier and Oktoberfestbier and brewers don’t always use these designations consistently on labels, which is why you may often see them used interchangeably.

Vienna Lager

Märzen has a very close relative called Vienna lager, first brewed by the Dreher Brewery of Schwechat near Vienna in 1841. It is not a coincidence that this beer emerged the same year as Märzen; the two brewers that created these styles were close friends and collaborated together. While Märzen is still fairly popular, Vienna lager is rarely brewed even in the city where it was born. However you’ll actually see it most often these days coming from Mexico – some common examples are Dos Equis and Negra Modelo. This is a result of late 19th century immigrant brewers arriving in Mexico from Austria.

A Little More Info…

Oktoberfest turned 200 years old in 2010, but it has not actually been held that many total times. Due to difficult times such as cholera epidemics and the first and second World Wars, Oktoberfest has actually been cancelled a total of 24 times.

Today the Munich Oktoberfest is the most famous beer festival in the world with an average of 6 million people attending every year


Have you ever attended Oktoberfest in Munich or locally in your own city? Share your experiences or favorite Oktoberfest beers with us!



North Market Microbrew Festival (Columbus, OH)

North Market Microbrew Festival – Columbus, OH


If you are local to the area (Columbus, OH) it’s time for the North Market Microbrew Festival!  In its 7th year, it is being relocated outside to accommodate a total of 15 breweries (6 more than previous years – now including some from other areas of Ohio outside of Columbus).

Admission to the event is free. Beer tasting admission is $20 and includes a commemorative pint glass, ten tasting tickets and a $5 North Market food certificate. Additional tasting tickets are available for $.50 each.

You can check it out Friday September 14th from 5pm to 9pm, Saturday September 15th from Noon to 8pm, and Sunday September 16th from Noon to 5pm.

The full list of participating breweries includes:

  • Barley’s Brewing Company (Columbus)
  • Barley’s Smokehouse & Brewpub (Columbus)
  • Buckeye Lake Brewery (Buckeye Lake)
  • Columbus Brewing Company (Columbus)
  • Elevator Brewing Company (Columbus)
  • Four String Brewing Company (Columbus)
  • Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant (Columbus)
  • Great Black Swamp Brewing Company (Toledo)
  • Great Lakes Brewing Company (Cleveland)
  • Hoof Hearted Brewing (Marengo)
  • Mt. Carmel Brewing Company (Cincinnati)
  • Neil House Brewery (Columbus)
  • Thirsty Dog Brewing Company (Akron)
  • Weasel Boy Brewing Company (Zanesville)
  • Zauber Brewing Company (Columbus)

See you there!



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I’m Kelly – Your Official Beer Advocate

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Tis the season for Fall beers, so what better time to start a beer blog than now? Welcome to Tasty Mug. Now let’s pour a beer and say “Cheers!”

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