It's Still September, But It's Time for Oktoberfest

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The Oktoberfest tradition is perhaps as important to Fremont as it is to its native Germany. OK, maybe not. But for Seattle-area beer lovers, this weekend's Fremont Oktoberfest is a fall tradition that can't be skipped. In the southern region of Bavaria, Oktoberfest first occurred in 1810 to celebrate the marriage of Prince Ludwig (not the crazy one--that was his grandson). The annual event in Germany is 16 days long, ending the first weekend in October. In Fremont, Oktoberfest is just three days--September 23, 24, and 25.

The traditional beer served in Germany at Oktoberfest is called Märzenbier. Here in the states, we typically just call it Oktoberfest beer. These rich, full-bodied lagers have a dark copper color and toasty flavor. Historically, they were named for the month in which they were brewed--March, or Märzen. Before the advent of refrigeration, beer wasn't brewed in the summertime since it would spoil in the hot weather. Brewing usually stopped in March and resumed again in the fall. The beers were kept in cold storage or brewed to a high alcohol percentage to reduce the risk of spoilage.

The Fremont Oktoberfest features dozens of breweries, pouring samples of over 80 microbrews and German beers. There will be Oktoberfest beers available from Bayern, Chuckanut, Lazy Boy, Samuel Adams, Silver City, Deschutes, and Firestone Walker. A complete list of beers can be found online.

Fremont isn't the only place to get in on Oktoberfest action. This weekend is also the 2nd Annual Spokane Oktoberfest. On tap are almost 60 beers from 22 Washington craft breweries, including many east-of-the-mountain breweries like Laht Neppur, Roslyn Brewing, and Northern Lights Brewing.

And for something a little more traditional--complete with oompah bands, dirndls, and a hefty dose of gemütlichkeit--head to Leavenworth. Over three consecutive weekends, you can celebrate Oktoberfest in Washington's own little Bavaria.

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