Get a start on Oktoberfest with these Western Pennsylvania celebrations
Munich, Germany, kicked off its annual Oktoberfest celebration this week and revelers all over the world — including Pittsburgh and its neighbors — are following suit.
The ‘Burgh may be short on lederhosen and elaborate beer steins to toast the season, but we certainly have enough beer — both craft and commercial – and plenty of ethnic dishes handed down for generations.
Here’s a sampling of where to go to celebrate Oktoberfest, Pittsburgh-style:
Penn Brewery, Pittsburgh’s North Side
Penn Brewery started celebrating early, so Sept. 28-30 is its second Oktoberfest weekend. The party gets under way at 5 p.m. Friday and winds down at 10 p.m. Sunday.
Among the menu options: fresh baked pretzels with Bier Cheese and spicy mustard, Pickled Red Cabbage Salad with Dijon and Poppy Seeds; Schweinshaxe Crispy Pork Shanks with Bourbon Sage Glaze, House Kraut and German Potato Salad and for dessert, Mini Apple Strudels with Caramel Sauce and Cinnamon Cream.
Beers include Penn Oktoberfest, Penn Pilsner, Dark, Weizen, Kaiser Pils, IPA, Tangerine Swirl, Pumpkin Roll Ale, Cheater Juice New England IPA, other specialty brews and its prize-winning Penn Gold Beer. Wigle Whiskey will be onsite from 5-10 p.m. Sept. 29 serving its O’zapft is Spirit, made by directly distilling Penn Oktoberfest beer.
Entertainment features Autobahn, Kevin Solecki, Mon Valley Push, Kevin Solecki and more.
Details: Penn Brewery Oktoberfest, 800 Vinial St., North Side, 5 p.m.-midnight Sept. 28-29, noon to 10 p.m. Sept. 30. 412-237-9400 or pennbrewery.com
Hofbrauhaus, South Side
This restaurant celebrates with German foods and beers throughout the year, even though its official Oktoberfest weekends are over. Special live entertainment is planned for several evenings through October, with Stein Holding Contests on Saturday nights, and the menu has a variety of German specialties.
Food selections range from a Munich Market Salad, chopped romaine lettuce with fresh strawberries, dried cranberries, glazed pecans, pineapples, orange slices and feta, served with raspberry poppy seed dressing, to Hofbrauhaus specialties such as Sauerbraten Marinated Beef with Red Wine served with red cabbage, vegetable garnish and buttered spätzle.
A handful of dessert selections feature traditional treats such German Apple Strudel imported from Bavaria served warm with vanilla and raspberry sauces, Bavarian Cream Puff, Schwarzwalder Kirsch Torte, a Black Forest chocolate and sweet cream layer cake with cherry filling, and a cinnamon sugar pretzel served with homemade cream cheese icing.
Details: Hofbrauhaus, 2705 South Water St., South Side Works, Pittsburgh, 412-224-2328 or hofbrauhauspittsburgh.com
Pittsburgh Oktoberfest in Butler
A three-day traditional German festival will be held Sept. 28-30 at the Big Butler Fairgrounds, sponsored by the Butler County Tourism and Convention Bureau.
The festival will feature authentic German food, live music, German dancers, German and craft beer, wiener dog races, pet costume contest, a Stein Hoisting challenge, games, midway fun, children’s crafts, and more than 100 vendors.
Details: Pittsburgh Oktoberfest, 5-11 p.m. Sept. 28, noon-11 p.m. Sept. 29 and noon to 7 p.m. Sept. 30. Tickets $17 at the gate; free for ages 17 and under. Big Butler Fairgrounds, 1127 New Castle Road, Prospect, 817-559-5309 or oktoberfestpitt.com
Celebrate at the Aviary
Even the National Aviary on the North Side is getting in on the fun of Oktoberfest, with a special dinner from 6:30 to 10 p.m. Oct. 18. Chef Josef Karst of Atria’s, exclusive caterer to the Aviary, is preparing a meal with a variety of authentic German fare.
Live music will be by Mädel Jäger; German-Style brews by Sam Adams will be available (for an additional fee) and guests can explore the Aviary’s immersive habitats, including its new Tropical Rainforest.
Details: National Aviary Oktoberfest, 700 Arch St., Pittsburgh, 6:30-10 p.m. Oct. 18, ages 21 and up, valid ID required, tickets are $39, 412-323-7235 or aviary.org
The Oaks Theater in Oakmont is celebrating Oktoberfest with a night of beer tasting and screening of George Romero’s classic horror film, “Night of The Living Dead,” starting at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 13.
The event for ages 21 and up will include a full bar and food, and samples from local breweries, including Block House Brewing Company, Iron City Beer, Penn Brewery and more. Oakmont Bakery will be making doughnuts from Block House beer for sampling.
Details: “Oaks-toberfest,” Oct. 13, Oaks Theater, 310 Allegheny River Blvd., Oakmont, tasting begins at 6:30 p.m., film showing is at 7:30. Valid ID required at the door. 412-828-6322 or theoakstheater.com
Autumnfest and Oktoberfest
Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Champion, Somerset County offers an opportunity to combine two special fall events, a drive to see the fall foliage en route to the resort’s annual Oktoberfest celebration at Autumnfest on Oktoberfest Weekend Oct. 6 and 7.
Live musical entertainment, artisans and crafters, chairlift rides, Bavarian games, kids crafts and German foods will be featured. Beer tastings for ages 21 and up. Autumnfest takes place Saturdays and Sundays Sept. 29- Oct. 21; each Autumnfest weekend showcases a different theme.
Details: Seven Springs Autumnfest Oktoberfest Weekend, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 6 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 7, 777 Water Wheel Drive, Seven Springs, 7springs.com
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.