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Food and Drink Features


Direct from the beer gardens in Germany comes Oktoberfest, a marathon celebration that inspired a beloved beer style.

Charles Martin September 7th, 2011

There are parties, and then there are parties. When Prince Ludwig of Bavaria decided to throw an all-out beer bash following his wedding in 1810, he announced the rager would go on until the last man dropped. This inspired a festival so epic, it kicked off an annual 16-day tradition that survives to this day named Oktoberfest.

Mike Turek, the owner of Old Germany, 15920 S.E. 29th in Choctaw, will talk as long as you’ll sit and listen about the history of Oktoberfest and the beers that were inspired by the annual event. His family took the chance of a lifetime by packing up and leaving the old country behind to set down new roots in Oklahoma. The Oktoberfest celebration that draws tens of thousands annually is in its 21st year. 

For 2011, the festival organizers have decided to introduce a second weekend, extending the event from Sept. 2-4 to today through Saturday at the Choctaw Creek Park to hedge their bets against the possibility of rain.

right Claire Bridges and Sheena Harrison celebrate Oktoberfest with a pitcher of fresh Choctoberfest.

“We will cook up about 6,000 pounds of potatoes for our potato salad, 3,000 pounds of brats, about 1,000 pounds of grilled ham hocks, then a couple thousand pounds of chickens,” Turek said.

There will also be music and entertainment, creating an authentic ode to the celebration in Munich.

But the central ingredient to any good Oktoberfest, according to Turek, is the beer.

“We’ll probably do 500 kegs of beer,” he said. “We’ll have 45 different beers, so it will be the largest selection of any other Oktoberfest I know of. Usually, a lot of them are sponsored by a specific beer company and will have their five or six beers. We will have an international beer fest — some are domestics, some are craft brews — but the majority are German beers. We’ll have wheat beers, double bock darks, Pilsners, amber Oktoberfest and, more importantly, we will have the very beer they will serve at this year’s Oktoberfest in Munich, called Wiesn beer.”

The beer was featured last year at the Choctaw Oktoberfest, but Turek said they ran out because they couldn’t get their hands on very many kegs since it’s not normally distributed in Oklahoma. This year, he said there will be plenty, which gives Oklahomans an idea of what the traditional Oktoberfest beer looks like. Unlike the wildly popular Sam Adams Octoberfest seasonal that is a darker, amber Märzen-style  beer, Weisn has less alcohol and a golden finish.

“It is about the easiest drinking beer you’ll ever taste,” Turek said. “It is similar to a lager, but not as hoppy as some of the Pilsners and not as malty as the amber. They design it differently each year, letting the brewmeister come up with a blend that is easy drinking, smooth, light on the malt and light on the hops. People who don’t normally like beers, they like this beer.”

We will have the very beer they will serve at this year’s Oktoberfest in Munich, called Wiesn beer.
—Mike Turek

Oklahoma breweries are also getting into the act with dedicated releases of their own. For the first time, Tulsa’s Marshall Brewing Company will be releasing its Oktoberfest lager statewide in six-pack bottles. Choc Beer in Krebs has its own take on the seasonal brew with Choctoberfest, which will make an appearance at the Choctaw Oktoberfest.

“We have been brewing Choctoberfest every year but one since 2005,” marketing director Zach Prichard said. “The recipe has evolved over the years. The current recipe was designed to be more similar to the beers in Germany. The versions exported to the U.S. tend to be a little stronger and darker. As a result, Choctoberfest is a little lighter than some others. With all that being said, the beer retains that rich malt character the style is known for.”

Choctoberfest will be served at four different Oktoberfests this year and is also available at liquor stores across the metro through the fall season, which Prichard said is really the perfect time to drink it.

“It is certainly one of our most popular seasonals,” Prichard said. “It is a great, refreshing beer that is easy to drink in the nice, cooler fall weather.”

Photo by Shannon Cornman

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