Some great things only come once a year; Christmas. The Hamburglar’s birthday. And best of all, the release of Ramstein Oktoberfest Lager at the High Point Brewing Company. Consistently rated as one of the best Oktoberfest beers, and only available on draft at the brewery and a few select taverns and distributors, it is a beer-lover’s prize worth hunting down if you truly love German style beers. The amber lager known as a märzen after the month of March, when it is was first brewed to last through the summer months, has become an autumn favorite and has become a September seasonal in celebration for Oktoberfest.
High Point Brewery has always made their monthly open house for the Oktoberfest season extra special. While the regular open house is great enough, with beer sampling and snacks, tours and camaraderie, for Oktoberfest they go all out. They open a cask of their Oktoberfest Lager, and have a feast of German delicacies. There was a huge crowd this time around, but being old hands, we got our growlers filled first while everyone swarmed over the beer sampling line, and stashed our growlers (5 this time around) in the car.
This time they had a double serving of their Oktoberfestbier, the filtered version known as Munich Amber, and the unfiltered, just called Oktoberfest Lager. They both have the malty flavors of a marzen, but manage to taste quite different. The Amber has fruitier notes and is a little more crisp, but the unfiltered lager has more notes of the grains and is smoother. They’re both quite delicious and I’m glad I got the extra growler, so I could get both- and one of the Classic! Their flagship Blonde hefeweizen has not been available in growlers for a while, but Firecracker grabbed a sixpack.
The food this time around was done by Karen Ontell, and it was excellent! Thanks again, Karen. To make things easier, everything was done as tapas or finger foods. There were huge soft pretzels and assorted mustards, to built a fine bready foundation, and then little skewers of chicken and pork made with Ramstein beers! Potato soup with spaetzel, stuffed cabbage rolls, and fantastic wurst with sauerkraut. Potato pancakes dotted with applesauce. And of course, dessert of raspberry streusel and butter cake. It was the perfect catering job for a crowded house full of hungry beer drinkers, and the food was delicious.
The cask was opened to great singing and fanfare, but I missed getting any of the actual casked lager this time around; I’ve had it before, and it does taste better. Maybe that’s wishful thinking, but the celebration certainly adds to the flavor of an already great beer. If you missed the open house, call the brewery and stop by to get a growler filled. They usually have it for the October open house too, but don’t bet on it. Beer this good is hard to get your mitts on! Let’s hope we see it in bottles sometime soon, at least the Munich Amber. Actually to hell with that, it leaves more beer for us! Prost!
We also met Jeff Linkous of the excellent Beer-Stained Letter blog, as we made a stack of pallets out back into a makeshift picnic table. He’s the source of the quality photos and videos of the events, and his blog has introduced me to quite a few Jersey brewpubs I hadn’t known of. So check it out for Jersey area beer news!