Oktoberfest in Chelsea

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.

Fresh cigars for Oktoberfest
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).

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