Summer’s heat may still be sticking around, but the flavors of fall have arrived in San Diego. Traditionally, Oktoberfest celebrations begin in September (but “Septemberfest” just doesn’t have the same ring to it) and all around the county, breweries are releasing their takes on Oktoberfest-inspired beers. Here’s a range of local options to kick off a much-needed celebration.
Märzen — The Original 40 Brewing Company
Original 40 is pulling out all the seasonal stops, offering favorites like their German pilsner, helles, and hefeweizen to pair with traditional bratwursts and pretzels. But it’s their 5.6 percent ABV Parte Märzen that really shines; the dry, crisp lager will be available on draft and in cans at the North Park tasting room starting Friday, September 17.
3117 University Avenue, North Park
Festbier — Eppig Brewing
Until 1990, Märzens were the official beer of Oktoberfest until the comparatively lighter (but equally delicious) festbier took its place. Germanophiles can find this 6 percent ABV delight at all Eppig locations as well as in bottle shops and various grocery stores around San Diego (and I highly recommend seeking it out).
2817 Dickens Street, Point Loma; 1347 Keystone Way, Vista
Schwarzbier — Ballast Point Little Italy
Don’t let the dark color fool you; schwarzbiers are a deceptively easy-drinking beer best enjoyed at the onset of autumn. Ballast Point’s version of the German lager weighs in at 5.5 percent ABV and bursts with notes of caramelized pie crust and a roasty finish.
2215 India Street, Little Italy
Dunkel — 13 Point Brewing Company
Lemon Grove’s only brewery recently tapped their annual Dunkel Breakin’ My Heart, and this year’s batch promises to be one of the best. The toasty Munich-inspired lager remains wonderfully crushable at 5.3 percent ABV and leaves consumers questioning how a beer this crisp can also be so complex.
8035 Broadway, Lemon Grove
Nonalcoholic Oktoberfest — Athletic Brewing Company
Athletic’s nonalcoholic Oktoberfest keeps the party booze-free but still brings the flavor with plenty of traditional German hops and malt. The first zero-percent ABV Oktoberfest brewed in the United States was released on September 12 both online and at local retailers.
Keep an eye out for plenty of festive beer events throughout September and October, including ones at AleSmith, North Park Beer Company, Pure Project, Home Brewing Company, Deft Brewing, Barrel & Stave, and more.