In the 200 years since Oktoberfest began as a royal German wedding party, the beer-driven festival has morphed into the largest secular celebration on Earth.
Its growing popularity is fueled by pork, potato pancakes, the chicken dance, and copious amounts of beer. As with other holidays, Bay Area residents put our own spin on the season's festivities.
Schroeder's, the oldest and largest German restaurant on the West Coast, cranks the Bavarian up to 11 with the start of Oktoberfest this Friday afternoon. From 3pm to 8pm, the block will be bumpin' with beer, outdoor dining, music, and dancing. Then, the party moves indoors for the next five Saturdays, where you can enjoy beer by the boot-full and participate in traditional Hofbräu activities, including stein holding contests, polka, and chicken dances. Classic Oktoberfest food specialties will be featured, including wiener schnitzel, bratwurst, and spätzle. Skip the lines and purchase your food and drink tickets online. // Starts Sept. 16, 240 Front St. (FiDi), schroederssf.com
Suppenküche at the Biergarten
This all-day party starts at PROXY's Walk-In-Theater in Hayes Valley at noon, where the Oktoberfest ceremonial keg will be tapped and enjoyed. At 3pm the party shifts next door to the Biergarten for a food, music, and more Oktoberfest brews. Then at 5pm, hobble down a block to Suppenküche for even more Bavarian festival flavor. And beer, of course. // Sept. 17, 525 Laguna St. (Hayes Valley), suppenküche.com
Oktoberfest by the Bay
The area's largest Oktoberfest runs next Friday through Sunday, September 23-25. The traditional festival boasts non-stop music, Bavarian folk dancers, sausages and other pork products, and an ocean of crisp Spaten. Friday and Saturday night sessions are 21 and older only. If you want a guaranteed place to sit and easy access to food, the bar, and bathrooms, spring for VIP tickets. // Sept. 23-25, Pier 48 (Mission Bay), oktoberfestbythebay.com
21st Amendment Brewery, Drake's Brewing and Cleophus Quealy Beer Co. are joining forces to bring a Bavarian tradition to San Leandro (the "Dro" in OkDROberfest) on Saturday, Sept. 24. Each brewery will offer a unique lineup of brews, food and entertainment, as well as a shuttle to transport guests from one party to the next. As part of the fest, the breweries also collaborated on a German-inspired Kolsch which you can try at any of the parties. Buy tickets before September 23rd to get a San Leandro brewery passport, an OkDROberfest beer stein, a 10oz beer at all three breweries, a bag of shwag, and shuttle access. // Sept. 24, various locations (San Leandro), okdroberfest.beer
Although Oakland's free street festival features German beer, food, and entertainment, its broad offerings reflect the city's diversity. More than 46 craft breweries and cideries will be on hand, alongside local food vendors, and four stages of entertainment, including DJs, dance groups, and live music ranging from Bavarian to funk to jazz. Avoid the lines by purchasing drink tickets or a package for unlimited beer tastings. // Oct. 1, Fruitvale Ave and MacArthur Blvd (Oakland), oaktoberfest.org
This free, family-friendly event in Fairfax combines bikes, food, music, and local craft beer. If you're interested in sampling from among the 35 brews available, buy a $40 ticket for unlimited tastings. Biketoberfest will also feature more than 70 bike exhibitors, organized mountain and road rides, a parade, a vintage bicycle show, a cargo bike jubilee, valet bike parking, and kid-centered activities. // Oct. 15, 765 Center Blvd. (Fairfax), biketoberfestmarin.com