Spooky Vibes Are On Tap At Many Of Pittsburgh’s Oktoberfest Celebrations
Local breweries are hosting a variety of parties to usher in the fall beer-drinking season.
Throughout the summer I enjoy seltzers and tropical cocktails, but as soon as September hits, I start decorating for Halloween and shifting into beer-mode like some kind of creepy, lager-lovin’ George Costanza.
Thankfully, there are lots of events on tap where you can show your autumnal appreciation for suds and spirits. Whether you hoist a stein in a haunted biergarten, in front of a solar-power stage or at a vegan-friendly brewery bash, this is our time to shine like a jack-o’-lantern.
Stefan Nitsch attended his first Penn Brewery Oktoberfest celebration in 1991. Now he’s hosting the annual beer bash.
The Austria native purchased the venerable North Side establishment last August. His Schwarzenegger-like focus led to the restoration of the historic lagering caves, the introduction of new beers and events that rock the biergarten. Now he wants to crush some heirloom apples.
Penn Cider makes its debut Sept. 8 at CAVO in the Strip District. Penn Brewery reps will be pouring free samples from 7 to 9 p.m. Pours will be available for purchase at the after-party that rages until 2 a.m. Flavors include apple, apricot and pumpkin spice. It will be available on draft at Penn’s headquarters at 800 Vinial St. in Troy Hill (four-packs will be there, too!) and at Pittsburgh International Airport.
The project started about five months ago when Nitsch teamed up with veteran cider maker Phil LaBoon, who mentored and guided Penn brewers through the process. Pumpkin Shandy, a collaboration with Soergel Orchards, will be released at the end of the month.
Head brewer Chris Rudolph has plenty of Munich-style fest beer ready for Oktoberfest, which will be held Sept 15-17 and Sept 22-24. Hours are 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday, when you can take complimentary horse-drawn carriage rides.
The event combines live music, German food, company traditions (the facility’s been pumping out suds since the 1800s!) and modern twists that go beyond Bavarian-style pretzels. Both weekends are free to attend and kid-friendly until 8 p.m., but you can opt for one of the VIP packages to get perks like private seating areas and exclusive sips of CAVE BEER, oak-barrel aged Oktoberfest beer that’s stored (and then gleefully consumed) inside the cool cavern.
On Thursday, Sept. 28, Penn Brewery will lauch a series of cigar nights on the terrace overlooking the biergarten. October brings an event called Prost to the Ghost that explores the haunted history of the boo-ery.
Say goodbye to the dog days of summer at Lolev’s new beer garden that’s adjacent to the property at 5247 Butler St. in Lawrenceville.
Co-owner Ted Slesinski says it was designed to be a pup-friendly lounge-like space. Mural artists painted a privacy fence with pops of color. Lolev’s soon-to-be art gallery and studio space will feature curated works from local artists.
The brewery, which Slesinski opened last year with his brother Scott, will host monthly charity events in the beer garden, including a Sept. 9 hog roast that starts at noon. They’ll be collecting donations for 412 Food Rescue. Lolev is also running a sustainable grain recycling program with Kyle Winkler, former recycling supervisor for the City of Pittsburgh who is known as the Zero Waste Wrangler.
Lolev’s Oktoberfest will be held Sept. 23 with Porky’s Bar & Grill providing the food. While the Etna haunt is undergoing renovations, its staff will be serving brats, kraut and spaetzle. There will be beer, of course, along with brewery tours and games.
The Slesinskis are putting the finishing touches on the brewery’s cellar, a temperature- and humidity-controlled storage space for oak-aged beers.
On Sept. 16, Beers of the Burgh’s Rocktoberfest will go on rain or shine, but shine is preferred.
A variety of bands will take the solar-powered stage at SouthSide Works Town Square from 4 to 10 p.m. The free, family-friendly music fest will feature food from Pita My Shawarma, Smokin Ghosts BBQ, Taquitos and Slice on Broadway.
Old Thunder Brewing Co., Fermata Brewing Co., Levity Brewing and Inner Groove Brewing will be pouring their beers. Wild Basin Hard Seltzers and Captain Morgan cocktails can also be purchased. For $10, visitors can buy a sampling pass that gets them one 5-ounce pour from each brewery and Wild Basin.
Festival organizers joined forces with ZeroFossil, a Munhall-based company that provides power to festivals, concerts and other events through sustainable sources. Even their vehicles run on veggie oil.
Of course, SouthSide Works also is home to Hofbrauhaus Pittsburgh, the giant Bavarian beer hall and biergarten along the Mon River. Its Oktoberfest events run three weekends starting Friday, Sept. 15.
It’s all about veggies and vampires at VOktoberfest on the South Side.
From 4 to 9 p.m., Velum Fermentation, a 35,000-square-foot brewery at 2120 Jane St., will be filled with revelers enjoying vegan food prepared by seven local restaurants, beer, art, vendors, live music, a Skee-ball competition, a Bavarian dance performance by the Alpen Schuhplattler and spooky stories from the Bump in the Night Society.
The Pittsburgh Vegan Expo and Kimmy Addison, a personal trainer who specializes in nutrition and senior fitness, are the organizers behind the city’s first plant-based Oktoberfest.