Wine & Spirits: Mid-Atlantic Oktoberfest

Barley, malt and hops fans unite in Shirlington for suds from around the world.

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Capitol City Brewing Co. principals at the Mid-Atlantic Oktoberfest. From left to right: Olivier Le Ru-Riboulot, brand marketing manager; Nasrin Saadvandi, general manager of Capitol City Shirlington; David von Storch, owner; Mike McCarthy, director of brewing operations (Photo courtesy Capitol City Brewing Co.)

Celebrating 20 years of creating more than 200 different styles of beer, local brew pub Capitol City Brewing Co. recently hosted its 13th annual Mid-Atlantic Oktoberfest Beer Festival. On Saturday, October 6, 2012, beer lovers flocked to the Village at Shirlington to sample more than a hundred different beers, ales and lagers from more than 50 breweries, each offering at least two selections.

The Village at Shirlington was the site of the popular Oktoberfest event. (Photo courtesy Capitol City Brewing Co.)

Capitol City Brewing Co. opened its doors in 1992, as the first brewpub in the Washington area since Prohibition. Its brewers say they identify and use only the highest-quality hops, fresh yeast and select malt to brew many of the world’s great ales and lagers. Today, it has locations in D.C. and Arlington.

At the festival, the brewpub served up German favorites including bratwurst, sauerkraut and fresh soft pretzels, along with their popular seasonal selections Oktoberfest Lager and Pumpkinator Ale. Liab’ und Schneid, a Mid-Atlantic duo known for their authentic German Alpine music, entertained festival-goers with traditional dance music.

I headed out to the festival on Saturday — the $25 admission gave each attendee a tasting glass to keep, and 10 tickets, each exchangeable for a 4-ounce sample. (Additional beer tickets were available for $1 each.) Of course, there were many more beers to sample, but here are some of the highlights:

  • Annapolis’ Fordham Brewing Company served up its baking spice- and cinnamon-spiked Spiced Harvest Ale alongside Old Dominion’s Oak Barrel Stout. The latter’s smoked and peated malts are joined by vanilla beans and oak chips for a smooth, complex brew. The two brews taste great on their own, but reps recommended mixing them together for what they dubbed a “Dirty Pumpkin.” Yeah, that was delicious.
  • Virginia’s Starr Hill Brewery featured its Pumpkin Porter — deeper, richer and more complex than the more common pumpkin ales found this time of year.
  • I saw a lot of attendees (admittedly, mostly women) walking around with glasses of something bright pink, which I discovered was pear cider by Crispin / Fox Barrel. Crisp, light and super sippable, it’s a great alternative to typical hard apple cider. (A quick perusal on Fox Barrel’s website led me to cool cider flavor combos like ginger & blackcurrant, and rhubarb & elderberry. Gotta get my hands on those.)
  • I have to give a shout out to one of my favorite local breweries, Alexandria’s Port City Brewing, and their Optimal Wit, a true Belgian style Wit that goes with just about anything.
  • Scythe and Sickle is Ommegang’s answer to a harvest beer. The Cooperstown, New York brewery makes a version that’s a bit more delicate and light than some of the other heavily spiced seasonal suds.
  • Louisiana’s Abita Brewing Company’s Satsuma Harvest Wit is crafted with the orange-esque Japanese citrus fruit of the same name, and spiced with coriander in keeping with the Wit beer tradition.

Capitol City’s downtown location (1100 New York Ave. NW, Washington, D.C., 202-628-2222) is currently offering Sunday NFL specials, including $3.50 beers, $6 Absolute Bloody Marys and other cocktails, and $5 for select appetizers, along with big screens to watch the game.

Kelly Magyarics is a wine and spirits writer, and wine educator, in the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached through her website, www.kellymagyarics.com, or on www.twitter.com/kmagyarics.

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