Photo by Douglas McGlynn
German band Autobahn performed at Penn Brewery’s Oktoberfest Sunday, Sept. 21. The band so named after the famous highway in Germany, plays every night during the September event, which continues this weekend, Sept. 26-28.
The change in the season has forced many inside, but with October approaching, September features an event you can enjoy indoors or out; Oktoberfest.
The Northside is rich with German culture so it’s no surprise that Oktoberfest is a big deal. Troy Hill’s Penn Brewery has been hosting an annual event for some years now, while the Aviary is just getting started with the German festivities at its Aviary at Night event.
Below are accounts from both events, which were Sept. 18 and Sept. 19-21, respectively. In the case of Penn Brewery, the party continues this weekend, Sept. 26-28.
Penn Brewery does Oktoberfest like no other
By Douglas McGlynn
Oktoberfest is back in a big way on the Northside.
The annual Oktoberfest celebration at Troy Hill’s Penn Brewery is going on during the last two weekends of September.
The event features a wide array of ethnic foods guaranteed to satiate your hunger, but where the brewery really shines is beer, of course.
Penn Brewery offers seven different home-brewed specials during the festivities, including its signature Penn Oktoberfest to go along with year-round selections like the Pilsner, Gold, and Dark.
But then again, what’s good beer without some good food?
A highlight of the fest’s menu is the sauerbraten, which is a German pot roast served over potato dumplings and drizzled in the Penn Dark beer beef broth. I found it paired well with the heavier Oktoberfest lager.
Portions are generous. Believe me, you will not leave this event with an empty stomach.
But wait there’s more.
Other than filling your gut with brats and beer, traditional German hospitality is expected, and this writer is proud to report that Penn Brewery’s staff is at the top of their game. I was pleasantly surprised when I was seated and enjoying my meal within 15 minutes of my arrival. Dressed in lederhosens and dirndls, the staff was extremely pleasant and seemed to be having just as much fun as the festivalgoers.
Penn Brewery Oktoberfest traditionally boasts an impressive music lineup, and this year is no different.
Pittsburgh’s premier Oktoberfest band, Autobahn, is set to perform every day of the festival, while Heimat Klang, Kevin Solecki, and Madel Jager round out the rest of oompah-style music roster. Performances will be held both within the restaurant and at the outdoor seating area.
Festivalgoers also have the opportunity to try out Penn Brewery’s new VIP package, which includes VIP seating, VIP lines for beer, and a souvenir beer stein.
But come early because parking is at a premium and lots fill up fast.
Douglas McGlynn is an intern.
The Aviary adds a German twist to this month’s Aviary at Night event
By Nick Buzzelli
The Aviary hosts 21-and-over events each month with its Aviary at Night offering, but last Thursday, Sept. 18 was its first attempt at Oktoberfest.
“This is the first Oktoberfest that I know of here,” marketing coordinator Laura Smith said. “We haven’t really done themed National Aviary at Nights. This is going to be our first theme, so we’re going to see if people respond to it.”
Atria’s Restaurant and Tavern is the official dining partner of the Northside non-profit, and approached the Aviary about holding the German inspired event.
Atria’s head chef Josef Karst said that the affair was the perfect opportunity to host its first seasonal dinner.
“We are planning on doing seasonal dinners out here and the Aviary at Night, which we started this year in February,” Karst said. “I thought it was a good frame to get this going.”
The event allowed guests to taste a sample of Atria’s Bavarian fare, such as Bierzelt Wurst Teller, Jaegerchnitzel and Bratwurst mit Semmel.
“We have a lot of birds that come from all over the world who I’m sure would enjoy German food and music as well,” Smith said jokingly. “Tonight, it seems like there are a lot of people who are really interested in the German aspect of it.
“We like attracting a whole bunch of different people.”
Oktoberfest aficionado Michael Tobias attended the Aviary’s rendition and said the cultural feeling at the Aviary’s Oktoberfest was similar to what he and his wife experienced during their trips to Deutschland.
“We had a chance to support the Aviary, which we love, and at the same time, get a little bit of a flashback to the German culture that we are already missing now that we are back home,” Tobias said. “Everybody here at the Aviary has always been very communal and they just love what they do and I think that is very much a German way of life now, to just take pride in what you do.”
Nick Buzzelli is a contributing writer