Yes, it’s October. I can tell not by the calendar on my wall, computer, or phone. I can definitely tell by the subject lines in my email inbox. There’s a lot of “Octobeer!!”, “Octobeerfest!”, or some other inspired variation on the theme. So, yes, it’s October! Or is it Oktober? I’m just not sure.
I’ve never been to the big Oktoberfest that’s held annually in Munich, Germany. I’ve seen videos and images of folks chugging beer out of enormous steins, dancing in lederhosen, and just generally having a fantastic time. How do they drink out of those things without wearing it? OH, I guess they are probably wearing it by the end of the day. All in all, it looks like good beer-soaked fun. One year, I’d like to be among those enjoying the festivities and the crisp fall season. This won’t be that year.
This year, unfortunately, the traditional Munich Oktoberfest celebration has fallen victim to COVID. Canceled. Another annual tradition enjoyed by the masses bites the dust. So, my German beer swigging adventure will have to wait until a time when there’s no pandemic to complicate things. Hopefully, for all involved, that will be soon!
Truth be told, I didn’t have any German travel plans this year anyway (pandemic or no pandemic). But it did get me thinking. What if I want to celebrate “beer season” and the official Oktoberfest is not an option? There are a few local alternatives. These aren’t comparable things by any means. But sometimes you just have to make do.
Let’s split this up into two very different and distinct parts if that’s OK? Let’s start with the beer drinking. Yes, we are fortunate to have some excellent local breweries here in Sarasota. And they’ve got some great seasonal offerings that just scream OKTOBERFEST!
Calusa Brewing (5701 Derek Ave, Sarasota. 941- 922-8150) has Kolben on tap this month. It’s a traditional Bavarian-style Märzen Lager. I mean, come on now; Bavarian-style has Oktoberfest written all over it. I don’t think they’ll serve it to you in an oversized stein, but it never hurts to ask.
Over at the brand new location for Big Top Brewing (975 Cattlemen Rd, Sarasota. 941-371-2939), they’ve got their Fest Is Best Festbier. It’s a strong golden German lager. Here’s a fun beer fact from Big Top Head Brewer, Jose Martinez:
Up the road in Downtown Bradenton is Motorworks Brewing (1014 9th St W, Bradenton. 941-567-6218). They’re’ putting out a real, traditional Munich Oktoberfest brew. It’s a robust Märzen lagerbier with 5.6% ABV. It’s got a little punch, but won’t have you hailing an Uber after just one pint.
If October is your reason to drink German beer, we’ve got a lot to choose from here. I’m happy to report that our local Sarasota beer lineup is pretty strong.
As promised, here’s part two. The Food! Did you think that I was going to write an Oktoberfest piece and not include some food? After all, this is a food-centric newsletter. Just like with German beer, we’ve got some great local options.
OK, I know that when you think German food, Michael’s on East (1212 S East Ave, Sarasota. 941- 366-0007) is not the first place that comes to mind. But for years Michael, Phil, and their culinary team have been hosting globally-inspired monthly menus. Guess what? This is October, so how about an Oktoberfest menu!
I am going to tell you right now that this IS NOT brats and sauerkraut. These are seriously elevated and creative Oktoberfest offerings. Let’s have a look at what you can expect at Michael’s on East this October.
Three courses of some of the best upscale German fare that Sarasota has to offer. And all for $38.95PP. When the month is over, so is this special menu. Make it a point to close out October on a culinary high note.
If you’re looking for something a touch more casual, fear not. We’ve got a couple of other places to satisfy your “wurst’ cravings.
Siegfried’s German Restaurant (1869 Fruitville Rd, Sarasota. 941- 330-9330) has a terrific menu of German “comfort food”. Kim & René moved from Germany to Sarasota in 2018 to bring us a taste of Germany. It’s part restaurant, part beer garden. Don’t worry, they’ve got you covered in the German beer department too, including a few selections that aren’t available anywhere else in town.
Over in Gulf Gate, Chef Heidi is also featuring some pretty traditional German dishes. Schnitzel Kitchen (6521 Superior Ave, Sarasota. 941- 922-9299) features a big German menu, but the real highlight here is The Schnitzel Station! Yes, that is correct, the restaurant has schnitzel just about any way you can think of. If you love schnitzel, this is your lucky day!
They also feature an impressive selection of German beer. Now, this is an important Oktoberfest point. You can get that German beer served in a stein or a boot!! OK, now we’re getting somewhere! I told you we had options!
You see, you don’t need to take an eleven hour plane ride to Munich, Germany just to enjoy a little taste of Oktoberfest. I’m sorry there’s no Beer Barrel Polka, but I do have a little authentic German Oktoberfest beer drinking music to get you in the mood. Enjoy!!
Here are some links we think you’ll find handy...
We want to keep you up to date on everything that’s happening around town. Here are some Sarasota food events that you may be interested in…
Can’t get enough of dineSarasota and Sarasota Bites??