Perusing Bavarian brews at Myrtle Beach’s Oktoberfests

For Weekly SurgeOctober 15, 2013 

John “Jilly” Garner. Courtesy photo.

Zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi!

Zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi!

Zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi!

Oktoberfest!

Two hundred and three years ago, Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen in Munich, Germany. The royal family invited the whole town out to the celebration in the fields in front of the city. Everybody showed up and danced, sang, watched parades, horse races and enjoyed great food and drink. The horse races became an annual event, paving the way to the event we know today as Oktoberfest.

Even if beer wasn’t the main star of Oktoberfest until the early 1890s, the crowds of millions each year since have more than made up for it. Munich Oktoberfest is now the largest festival in the world. And even though I’ve never had the opportunity to attend the Munich Oktoberfest, I’m lucky enough to live in Myrtle Beach and have several Oktoberfest celebrations to choose from. One of which was the weekend of Oct. 4-6 at Valor Park in the Market Common. Starting on Friday night (Oct. 4), revelers were able to choose from a wide variety of seasonal beers, as well as enjoy lots of great German food and music.

We attended the last day of the fest, which was Sunday (Oct. 6) from 1-5. There was still plenty of good food and beer to enjoy, as well as some nice fall beer-drinking weather. The Rheingold German band provided the requisite oompah music, and event sponsor, the Piggly Wiggly, was selling some deli-made bratwurst that was some of the best I’ve ever had. I also learned that the brats were prepared with a healthy splash of Sam Adam’s Octoberfest. Sauerkraut and German potato salad made fitting side dishes. Another booth was serving up authentic Sauerbraten. There were plenty of other choices available for those who weren’t in the mood for German fare – like pizza, barbecue and, of course no fest at Valor Park would be complete without kettle corn.

Beer was definitely the star of this fest – and there were plenty of choices. Foothills, New South, Highland and Sam Adams all had their traditional Oktoberfest beers – Märzens on draft. Pumpkin beers were also in abundance – Foothills Cottonwood, Shocktop and Terrapin Pumpkin as well as the popular Pumking from Southern Tier. If fall seasonals weren’t really your thing, there was an assortment of craft brews available to suit any palate. I found a couple of Weihenstephaner Original Premium lagers to quench my thirst after eating a couple of brats.

The Downtown Myrtle Beach Oktoberfest was held the next Saturday (Oct.12) on the site of the old Myrtle Beach Pavilion amusement park. Ocean Boulevard was closed off to traffic between 8th and 9th Avenues North to accommodate the live music stage, VIP tent, pony rides and booths selling beer, bratwurst, crafts and more. The event started at noon, so we made our way there to enjoy some lunch and a beer. We’ve attended in past years and know that the crowds swell as the night progresses towards the headlining musical act. So, the afternoon was a bit more low-key, with less folks, smaller food and beer lines and more families enjoying the day. Even though we weren’t able to get any bratwurst, we found some soft pretzels and a delicious Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier and checked out the music by Who Shot JR? followed by Ballyhoo. In between bands the Channelheimers Oompah Band took to the smaller second stage with traditional German drinking songs. We left long before headliners, Cowboy Mouth and drivin’ and cryin’ took the stage, but feel confident that this year’s event was another successful downtown Oktoberfest.

Holy City

I am very excited that another excellent South Carolina brewery is bringing its beers to Myrtle Beach. Better Brands Myrtle Beach announced that it will start distributing North Charleston’s Holy City Brewing next month and is expecting kegs of its Great American Beer Festival (GABF) Gold Medal-winning Pluff Mud Porter to start popping up in bars, restaurants and growler stations in the Myrtle Beach area around the middle to the end of November. And while its flagship porter will be the sole Holy City beer to hit the beach for now, hopefully we’ll see more of the lineup in the near future. The brewery just recently started to bottle its Washout Wheat, labeled as a no-frills quenching classic wheat beer with notes of banana and clove. Other flagship beers such as the Holy City Pilsner and the Slanted Porch pale ale should be forthcoming.

Staying crafty

If you missed out on Oktoberfest, or didn’t quite get your fill – don’t worry, there’s still many more chances to get your craft beer fix with some events coming soon. The House of Blues is at it again with its inaugural Chili Cook-off & Craft Beer Fest on Saturday at The Deck, featuring more than 25 craft beers and a chance to vote on the best chili. The Crafty Rooster in downtown Conway is also having its 4th Anniversary Oyster Roast on Saturday. Oysters pair really well with beer (especially porters and stouts), and the Crafty Rooster has a killer selection of drafts and bottles, so you do the math on that one.

Also, the third annual Brewing at the Beach is scheduled for 1-5 p.m. Nov. 16 at New South Brewery, so if you are interested in learning how to homebrew or just want to sharpen your skills or geek out with other brewers – here’s your chance. Connect with MASH on Facebook for more details: facebook.com/mbhomebrewers.

Contact John Garner at MBCraftBeer@gmail.com and follow him at www.facebook.com/TheNewBeerman.

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