By Tara Nurin
Don’t let the name fool you. Oktoberfest is not in October. In fact, around these parts, the celebrations start Labor Day Weekend – before your bathing suit has even had time to dry. So why then is it called Oktoberfest? Because the festival, held to honor the marriage of Prince Ludwig to Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, runs two-and-a-half weeks to end on October 1. Not that you’ll remember this after you’re raised many toasts to Prince what’s-his-name at one of several Oktoberfest parties being held right here in Philadelphia.

McGillin’s Olde Ale House
1310 Drury Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 735-5562
Through Oct. 1
Hours: 11 a.m. – 2 a.m.
Price: PAYGO

Oktoberfest spans six weeks at the oldest continuously operating pub in the country. Since late August, McGillin’s has been serving Oktoberfest beers and German food nonstop, with many of them on special. But while beers like Stoudt’s Fest, Flying Fish Octoberphish, Victory Festbier and Ramstein’s Oktoberfest and foods like mussels steamed in Oktoberfest lager, grilled pork loin and a German grilled sausage platter turn a night at the hall-like bar into a veritable Germanic Occasion, even a regular night here is as lively as if an oompah band were playing.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Brewers Outlet
7401 Germantown Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19119
(215) 247-1265
October 1, 2011
Hours: 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Price: Free

If it can sometimes seem like everything good comes with a price, the Octoberfest Party is here to disprove that cynical notion. Employees of this beer distributor will convert the retailer into a rollicking frenzy of free Oktoberfest beer tastings, authentic German food, beverage specials and giveways, which, knowing the beer industry, may very well include beer shirts with cartoons of dancing wursts.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Hop Angel Brauhaus
7980 Oxford Ave,
Philadelphia, PA 19111
(215) 437-1939
Sept. 17-Oct. 2, 2011
Times vary

Every weekend during Octoberfest is a party at Hop Angel Brauhaus. Each Sunday between September 18th and October 2nd is a Wheat Beer Brunch that features, uh, wheat beer. There’s a different musician and a rotating German and American beer or two spotlighted each week, and on the 18th the addition of a car show will make this afternoon a guy’s wheat dream. As for Saturdays, the 17th is the Big Kick Off, with that day’s beer selections being Flying Fish Oktoberfish, Yuengling Oktoberfest and Hoffbrau Oktoberfest. There will be music, too, of course. Drink, eat, listen, and repeat every Saturday until October 1.

Photo Credit: Memphis Taproom

Memphis Taproom
2331 E. Cumberland Street
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 425-4460
Oct. 15, 2011
time TBA

When we emailed owner Leigh Maida to ask about Octoberfest, she cautioned that Thirstoberfest “isn’t really an Oktoberfest, nothing really German about it, including the beer.” But we’re going to ignore her warning and include her bar anyway because A) we like it, B) it’s got a new beer garden C) Thirstoberfest rhymes with Beeroberfest, which rhymes with something else that we can’t quite remember. This year’s Thirstoberfest focuses on flagship beers brewed by American craft breweries. She’s right, that has nothing to do with Octoberfest. But there are two Octoberfest tie-ins, so we do kinda feel better. 1) The food truck will be serving Thirstoberfest dogs all day. 2) She’ll also be pouring some rare international beers, one of which is Aventinus Eisbock, which is German. So there you go.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Frankford Hall
1210 Frankford Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19125
Hours: Mon to Fri 4pm – 2am; Sat to Sun 12pm – 2 am
(215) 634-3338

Stephen Starr, who owns this new beer hall and garden, didn’t know exactly what he was planning for Octoberfest when we went to print. But it is a German-style beer and food establishment, after all. We’ll assume that come Octoberfest, the 400-seat restaurant will be a center of the city’s beer-drinking fun. You’d have to try hard not to have fun during a jolly German holiday in a place that serves imports and crafts like Bitburger Pils, Schneider Aventinus, Radeberger Pilsner, and Hacker-Pschorr Munich Gold along with sauerkraut, schnitzel, spaetzle with gravy, Bavarian bread dumplings, weisswurst and käsekrainer. If you do find yourself having a good time, don’t forget to say probst and danke to Prince Ludwig and King Stephen Starr.

Tara Nurin is a freelance writer and producer based in Philadelphia and Camden, NJ. She specializes in coverage of craft beer, nightlife, restaurants, sustainable food and local destinations.