Don't know these people, but they were having a great time
Don’t know these people, but they were having a great time

Thanks to a deal from Thrillist, my friends and I attended an Oktoberfest event at La.venue near Chelsea a few weekends ago (this post was delayed because of the hurricane and other things). I showed up a bit earlier than my friends and ended up standing in line longer than expected as the event started a half-hour late. Fortunately, there was a mobile cheese vendor parked right next to the front of the line with a the greatest sign in the world: Free Cheese.

La.venue is an interesting place to hold Oktoberfest–it’s a large industrial space with a few large rooms. The center room was reserved for tables, music, and some odd contests like best beer belly (I couldn’t even qualify for that contest if I wanted to). Hidden in a corner was even someone rolling cigars, which was more interesting than a non-smoker would think. The beer stations weren’t set up according to any logic that I could tell–not even by region. But that didn’t really bother me, as long as I could easily make my way through the crowd and not have to suffer on long lines for a drink.

oktoberfest cigars
Fresh cigars for Oktoberfest

The event did not seem to live up the advertised expectation. There were supposed to be more than 100 beers, but I doubt that. I tried most of the beers (some more than once), and I still felt fine. I only avoided beers I’ve had before and didn’t particularly enjoy–there’s no reason to waste time on beer I know I don’t want. There is also the possibility that some beers may have run out from the first session of the event (I saw plenty of extremely drunk people walking out as I arrived at the venue).

oktoberfest chelsea
One of the friendliest servers at the event. Most refused to have their picture taken.

Being at the front of the line to enter, I was able to move rather quickly to my first few beers. As the day wore on, I sought out lines for the beer that were shortest unless my friends recommended something.

On the food side of things, there was a dried meat vendor that handed out samples–The Jerky Hut in Pennsylvania. I had a taste of the ghost pepper beef jerky–it was a great balance of sweet and very spicy, and the spiciness built up and lingered. It was an impressive spice blend. I also had a taste of ahi tuna jerky, which was quite good as well, but not spicy. Unfortunately, they ran out of the kangaroo jerky by the time I got there (just another animal I haven’t eaten).

Jerky anyone?
Jerky anyone?

Some of the better beers I tasted throughout the event were American microbrews.

  • Heavy Seas Peg Leg imperial stout. This is was the best dark beer at the event. It is a very smooth imperial stout.
  • Widmer Brothers Marionberry hibiscus gose. A very well-balanced beer–the hibiscus isn’t overpowering, but still clearly present. The color is definitely not manly, but it is an enjoyable beer. This stood out as a unique flavor among the numerous brews.
  • Breckenridge Lucky U. I enjoy the beer from Breckenridge and this is no exception. A terrific bitter malt.
  • New Belgium Ranger IPA. It’s not easy to get New Belgium beers on the east coast, and I miss them from my time in Colorado. This was a really good IPA.
  • Bitburger kostrizer schwarz. I’m not a fan of the rather generic Bitburger lager, but this impressed me. My friend pointed me to this one. It was dark and smooth with a light coffee flavor.
  • Troegs Perpetual. This is a lighter beer from Troegs, but it had a lot of sharp hops. I wouldn’t recommend it everyone, but it’s great for hops lovers.

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