This year’s lineup of Oktoberfest 2021 festivities across Broward and Palm Beach counties is like drinking a half-spilled stein of Hofbrau: Yes, there’s beer, but hardly enough to cause a big celebration.
Restaurants and German-American Clubs, still wary of COVID-19′s grip on South Florida, want to keep it that way by taking a deliberately stripped-down approach to the usual beer-soaked weekends of brats and lederhosen. Call it Oktoberfest-lite: Still refreshing, lower calories. No, we kid: There’s plenty of calories. (We can’t quit you, shiny slabs of Black Forest cake.)
With the actual Oktoberfest canceled again in Munich, here are six South Florida celebrations worth taking your beer steins. And here’s your annual reminder, soon-to-be-tipsy revelers, that you’ve always got ein Freund in Uber and Lyft.
Oktoberfest at Rene’s Schnitzelhaus
An Oktoberfest is only as good as its schnitzels and lagers, and chef-owner Rene Kostoy (Deck on Fort Lauderdale Beach, Mozart Stube in Coral Gables) has specialized in both for 30 years. (Fun fact: He was a former beer vendor at Stuttgart’s Cannstatter Volksfest, the second-biggest beer festival in the world after Oktoberfest.) At his 50-seat Schnitzelhaus in Sunrise, Kostoy’s Oktoberfest menu includes Paulaner Oktoberfest Marzen and Warsteiner Oktoberfest. We recommend – along with schnitzel – his 24-hour roasted pork shank served with sauerkraut and pretzel dumplings.
Funky Buddha Tap Room Oktoberfest
Yes, it’s another stripped-down beer celebration – the brewery’s usual Oktoberfest and Dachshund Dash takes place next-door at Jaco Pastorius Park, in partnership with the city – but Funky Buddha’s gathering offers a sharp deal. Bring any Funky Buddha-branded stein for $10 32-ounce refills of Oktoberfest-themed beers Buddhafest Marzen (an amber lager), Floridian Hefeweizen (a golden wheat beer) or Vibin’ Groovable Lager (a citrusy American lager), along with pretzels and brats from its kitchen.
Oktoberfest at Sistrunk Marketplace
For beer authenticity, we look no further than Fort Lauderdale’s resident German wizard Rauf Vagifoglu-Khoffner, who takes a rather fanatical approach to his suds. Khoffner’s German-style pilsners, IPA and stouts use grains from Bamburg, Germany, and other sources, sticking to a strict Old World technique called German Beer Purity Law. (Beers are brewed with hops, barley, malt, water, yeast – but no gimmicky, funky flavors.) “It’s the same taste you would find if you bought a ticket to Munich and ordered a nice German beer,” Khoffner says. On tap at his Khoffner Brewery in the food hall: Two specialty lagers, Marzen Oktoberfest and Pale Oktoberfest, along with oak barrel-aged Raspberry Chocolate Stout (raspberry puree and cocoa nibs). There will also be a Blind Beer Contest ($20, includes five flights via Eventbrite.com) from 2 to 4 p.m. Sept. 25, Oct. 2 and Oct. 9, where drinkers must correctly guess three of five mystery beers to win. (Prize: free beer.) Meanwhile, the Sistrunk food hall will serve schnitzels, beer brats, Bavarian pretzels and apple strudels from butchery Chop Shoppe. The food hall won’t accept Oktoberfest walk-ins, but visitors can make timed seating reservations for up to 20 people on its website.
Oktoberfest at German American Society of Greater Hollywood
This family-friendly bash, unspooling over three weekends, will stage live music by accordionist Bob Houston and a show by Bavarian folk dancers the Auerhahn Schuhplattlers on Sept. 25 and Oct. 9. On Oct. 23, there will be live music by Houston and a clogging performance by Pure Dynamics Dance Studio. Admission: $12 for adults, free for 10 and under, but snag this Groupon for a free beer.
Noon Oct. 2-3 at The Wharf Fort Lauderdale, 20 W. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-372-7606 or WharfFTL.com
For a more traditional biergarten, seek the Wharf, downtown Fort Lauderdale’s open-air party monster, whose Oktoberfest ambitions will include live German music, beer and this drink special: Buy one shot of Jagermeister, receive a free German brew. Wharf vendors Even Keel, Lunchroom, Piefather and Mrs. Balloo will each offer Oktoberfest dishes. Admission, which is free, is 21-and-older after 6 p.m.
A stripped-down version of its oompah band-playing, lederhosen-sporting, bratwurst-munching celebration, the American German Club of the Palm Beaches’ family-friendly event will limit capacity and close its clubhouse this year. To avoid crowding, tickets will only be sold online via Eventbrite ($10 for adults, $7 for children 7-14, free under 7), but not at the gate. Now, the better news: Its carnival will return, as will folk dancers, schuhplattlers and bagpiper acts such as Alex Meixner Band and the Klaberheads. And there will be no shortage of traditional German food, so you can set upon those enticing bowls of veal goulash and slabs of Black Forest cake with enthusiasm.