For the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Oktoberfest, the fabled beer festival has returned to Munich, Germany — and along the Peninsula.
The event, widely known in Munich for its massive tents filled with rows of benches, carnival rides, German attire, food and of course beer, traditionally runs for 16 days at the end of September, ending on either the first Sunday of October or Oct. 3 (German Unity Day) — whichever comes later.
If you haven't booked your flights to Munich for the real thing, you can always indulge in some of the local Oktoberfest festivities taking place right here on the Peninsula. As they would say at Oktoberfest, "Prost!"
Steins Beer Garden
Although Steins in Mountain View has yet to resume its paused pre-pandemic Oktoberfest party, the restaurant has added a number of Oktoberfest specials available Sept. 17 to Oct. 3. In addition to its standard menu, Steins will be serving a pork schnitzel with gravy, a platter of Bavarian sausages and a pork stew. The beer list, which rotates often, always includes a few German mainstays to wash down your food, and Steins says they'll also be adding special Oktoberfest brews. Follow Steins on Instagram for the latest food and drink specials.
Redwood City Oktoberfest
From Sept. 21-25, Redwood City will play host to its eighth annual Oktoberfest celebration. The celebration will center around a large tent in downtown's Courthouse Square, 2200 Broadway. The event's main stage will be host to a number of bands performing traditional German folk music, and vendors will be on hand to supply seasonal Oktoberfest beers, pretzels and bratwurst. The organizers also have planned a stein-holding competition, a traditional German drinking game where players see who can hold a full liter stein of beer in their outstretched arm the longest. The event also will feature dance and yodeling contests.
The festival, which is a ticketed event, runs from 5-9 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, 5-10 p.m. on Friday, and from 4-8 p.m. on Sunday. On Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the festival will offer a more family-friendly afternoon seating. Be warned, although the festival is outdoors and all ages are welcome, there are no dedicated children's activities, and pets are not allowed inside the festival tent.
Tickets for the festival cost $16-$27 depending on the day and time, with options between $10 and $17 for those who are underage or aren't drinking, and are available for purchase online, or at the festival. Each ticket includes a commemorative beer stein and a complimentary drink ticket.
The festival's organizers boast over 1,100 square feet in the event tent, with "family-style" bench seating mirroring the traditional beer tents of Munich's Oktoberfest. If you're attending as part of a large group, a VIP package is available for $225, including admission and reserved seating for six, a dedicated event entrance and 12 drink tickets.
Ludwig's Biergarten Oktoberfest Beer Festival
From Oct. 14-16, Ludwig's Biergarten, located at 383 Castro St. in Mountain View, is hosting a series of Oktoberfest events combined with food specials like schweinshaxe (a roasted German pork knuckle), live music and stein-holding competitions.
For groups, Ludwig's offers table reservations for the duration of each day's celebration for $145.
If you're looking to host your own Oktoberfest event, Ludwig's is also offering catering packages for groups of 30 or more, featuring either finger foods or a full buffet of German classics like schnitzel and spaetzle.
Now in its 27th year, Campbell Oktoberfest returns to the streets of downtown Campbell Oct. 15-16. The festival's organizers promise over 100 different vendors and entertainment options spread across four event stages.
The centerpiece of the festival is its Biersch Garten tent, featuring brews from San Jose-based, German-inspired Gordon Biersch Brewing Company. German-style bratwurst and other sausages are available from San Joaquin County purveyor Lockeford Sausage, alongside other traditional German drinking food like pretzels and German potato salad. The festival also will have a number of other non-German food offerings like jerk chicken from Spicy Roy's Grill in San Jose.
In addition to the food, concerts and craft vendors, Campbell Oktoberfest will hold three contests: a best-dressed costume contest for those donning traditional German garb, a stein-holding contest and a Braumeister competition open to ambitious home brewers who think their Oktoberfest-style lagers could hold up to the discerning tastes of judges, including Gordon Biersch Brewing Company owner Dan Gordon.
Admission to the event is free, though drink tickets are available for advance purchase.
We'd be remiss to talk about German beer gardens in the Bay Area without mentioning Wursthall at 310 Baldwin Ave., San Mateo. Though the restaurant isn't holding an Oktoberfest event, the manager did mention that it plans to make plenty of Oktoberfest beers available on tap during the festival season.
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Zack Fernandes contributes to TheSixFifty.com, a sister publication of Palo Alto Online, covering what to eat, see and do in Silicon Valley.