2012 Oktoberfest at Wrigley Field

Oktoberfest at Wrigley Field was really nothing more than a ploy to get a free Cubs Oktoberfest mug but really any event is what you put into it and of course I had to attend the Cubs game in lederhosen. My friends Parth, Andrea, Suzie and I took the Metra into the city and then the Red Line up to Addison to go to the game.

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We arrived about an hour before the game started and proceeded straight into the park. The stadium was pretty empty but that may have been because it was a Wednesday afternoon, last game of the year and a game between two ball clubs each with 100+ losses on the year. Regardless, baseball is baseball and it is always better to be at the ballpark than at work.

The day was a lot of fun. My friend Suzie also came to the game in costume wearing her dirndl at we were a hit. A number of fans and even employees wanted to have their pictures taken with us. The game was good. The Cubs ended up winning 5 – 4 with a base hit in the bottom of the ninth to drive home the winning run after the Astros tied up the game in the bottom of the 8th with a three-run shot that ended up a few seats down from me. I am happy to report that my friend and I were on TV. In the bottom of the seventh inning they had a good 10 second shot of us and Bob Brenly told Len Kasper to get a pair of lederhosen.

After the Cubs victory you have to do what every good Cubs fan does, celebrate the win (even in a disastrous year). Being that we were in the Oktoberfest spirit we headed towards the Hofbräuhaus in Wrigleyville and I was surprised that they were open since their website said they would be closed. We grabbed seats on the patio which was nicely decorated for the season. It was also nice to sit on authentic biergarten tables. I ordered up a Maβ of Hofbräu Oktoberfest and also enjoyed a Bavarian pretzel. We soon made friends who sat at the other end of our table and we started prosting away. Needless to say that Maβ went down quickly and it was off to our next stop.

We were on our way to Prost! but then noticed that the Blarney Stone was open as well. The Blarney Stone is my favorite bar in Wrigleyville so I had to stop in and have a pitcher. That turned out to be bad news for two of my friends and they called it a night. Luckily for me, Suzie was still going strong and we walked to Prost! to have dinner and of course a few more drinks.

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As always, Prost! was a great time. There was a table across the way that was doing Das Boot and having a grand time. We were lucky because since we came dressed up we each got a free bratwurst. In addition to the brat we ordered Thuringer and their giant pretzel. Sadly, they were out of Paulaner Oktoberfest Wiesn but I was happy to have a Maβ of Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest. When the night was winding down and we paid our bill, the manager Eric surprised me with a shot of German schnapps. If you are unfamiliar with German schnapps it is nothing like our fruity, sweet American version. This was like taking a shot of 151. It was supposedly pear flavored but you could barely tell but you know what, it went down pretty easily and I wouldn’t mind having it again.

If you get a chance to go to Prost! make sure to try one of their cocktails in addition to their wonderful beer selection. Make sure to stay and eat as well. You will not be disappointed. Like all good things they eventually come to an end and we cabbed it back to the train station to head home. If the Cubs offer another Oktoberfest event you know I’ll be there but they could really work on making it more well-known and actually give some sort of sense of an Oktoberfest atmosphere. The commemorative mug was very nice and the ticket prices were reasonable so I can’t really complain, plus I also had a great day and the Cubs won so that helps too.

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Suzie and I on WGN Sports!

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My friends and new friends at the Hofbräuhaus in Wrigleyville

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Me at Chicago's Blarney Stone (I always get a picture with the cooler)

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Parth, Suzie and I outside the Wrigley Field Marquee

2012 Zanetoberfest - Drinking Made Easy Event at Joe's on Weed St.

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Zanetoberfest was stop three on my Oktoberfest tour of Chicago. I left Prost! around 6:30pm to make sure I would get in line in time. I hopped on the Red Line and got off at North and Clybourn then walked to Joe’s on Weed St. The line was already wrapped around the building when I got there. I met three great people in line, Ryan, Hannah and Danielle. We got to talking and it was the best thing to happen. I ended up hanging out with them almost all night. The line wasn’t too bad. A couple minutes after I got there they started letting people inside. Turns out the line had general admission but also VIP. Once the VIP got inside the line was greatly reduced and we actually spent most of our time waiting inside the bar.

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Once the doors opened for general admission it was crazy. I was already doing pretty well after Oktoberfest Chicago and Prost! but that wasn’t going to stop me from taking full advantage of an all you can drink. We proceeded straight to the bar and ordered our first round.

In addition to the alcohol they did have two food options for an additional cost, pretzels for $3 and brats for $6. Stadium pricing but that was to be expected. Unbeknownst to me someone ordered pretzels. They were actually pretty good and the cheese sauce that accompanied it was awesome. It really helped keep me from getting too sloppy.

We kept ourselves pretty close to the bar but that also had a great advantage, we were right near the red carpet where Zane and Steve were going to do their photo shoot with the crowd. We all got in line and were able to quickly talk to the guys as well as have our picture taken. Needless to say I, of course had to do some shameful self promotion. I’m happy to say Zane does have a Backyard Oktoberfest business card (hopefully he kept it).

The whole night was pretty much a blur and it went by way too fast. They did a live version of their podcast at the bar. There is a link at the bottom. Listening to it today brought back a lot of memories and reminded me a little of what I was doing when they were talking. One pointer I learned for next year: BYOS, bring your own stein! There were a number of people with their own Maβ and they had them filled at the tap! Also, I need to bring stickers, if the guy who gave me the Prost sticker is reading this I thank you for the idea. Everyone loves stickers and it showed since everyone around me had that sticker on. Even Zane had one!

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Obviously by now you should be able to tell that this is not rated like any other Oktoberfest because in reality it was nothing more than a crazy drinking party but boy was it a blast. I do have to say that I did appreciate the German music that was played throughout the evening when the guys weren’t on stage. On top of that, I did manage to get third in the costume contest! Gangnam Style guy was the clear winner and you can’t say no to a guy dressed in a dirndl who has booze in his boobs. I would be happy if I do not see video of my dancing on stage doing a terrible version of Gangnam Style but if you have it I’ll definitely post it. Ryan, the guy I was hanging out with, was also a contestant in the yodeling contest. I can’t remember if he won or not.

Sadly, I had to leave right around midnight to catch my train home. In retrospect, I wish I didn’t leave because I missed the 12:40a train by two minutes. Really should have taken a cab to the station, CTA is way too slow at night. That’s ok because I ran into an awesome Indian bachelor party on the Red Line and they were hilarious. They took a lot of pictures with me; unfortunately, I took none of my own. Thankfully, the Blue Line to O’Hare is open 24 hours and I was able to get a flat rate cab from the airport back home. My Oktoberfest tour of Chicago was pretty amazing and if I met you that night and you have pictures shoot me an email via the contact page or write a comment. I wish I could remember more people from that night but I was definitely three sheets to the wind. I look forward to next year’s Zanetoberfest (assuming I’m not in Munich).

Link to the Drinking Made Easy Podcast #37: Oktoberfest Drunkfest

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Zane Lamprey and I

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Dude in a dirndl

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Danielle and Hannah with Steve and Zane

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My view from the stage during the costume contest.

2012 Goose Island Oktoberfest

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The Goose Island Oktoberfest occurred on a rather strange day, a Thursday night (September 27, 2012). Nothing wrong with that but I believe the event may have been better on a weekend but maybe they were doing it on a weeknight to draw in the crowd. Regardless, the event was a lot of fun. I took off straight from work and headed home to change into my lederhosen then hopped right on the Eisenhower into Chicago. A buddy of mine lives near Wrigleyville and has a nice place to park for free. I made the half mile walk to Goose Island during rush hour which was a lot of fun because of all the looks I was getting from people and a number of compliments. I arrived at Goose Island really early, around 6:00p assuming I would just grab a seat at the bar and have a beer while I wait. I asked where the event was being held and I was directed to the back section of the bar. There was a back bar and the Chardon Polka Band was setting up and doing their sound check. I took a seat at the bar but they informed me that they were not ready to serve back there so I just watched the sound check. I come to find out later that I probably wasn’t supposed to be back there but I looked like I was part of the band so they let me through. It was awesome to have pretty much a private show. The guys from the band were a lot of fun to talk to when they were not setting up. They were one of the main reasons I came to this event.

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I heard their CD and enjoyed it a lot and knew that I had to see them live anytime they came to Chicago (They are from Ohio). Time passed quickly and soon the bar was open and the $25 all you can eat and drink from 7:00p – 9:00p was underway. The crowd wasn’t too big but it did increase throughout the night. It was a cash bar after 9:00p. I met two guys who travel to Bavaria quite often and we hit it off telling stories of our travels, recommendations on places to go, what to eat and drink and other fun stuff. They also made it really fun because they were dressed up as well and we were taking a bunch of pictures with people which is always a good time. The Goose Island Oktoberfest beer was really delicious and I can’t wait until they bottle it. Rumor is that they are replacing the Harvest Ale with the Oktoberfest next year, I hope that is true. The beer is full flavored and fits well with the Oktoberfest style of beer. It is most similar to Samuel Adams Octoberfest. If you ever have a chance I would recommend getting a glass. The waitresses were also on their game that night. Right when any of us were getting close to finishing a beer they were right there to either refill or another one was already waiting for us. The food was really good but nothing too special; hard and soft pretzels, brats, sauerkraut and potato salad. The Chardon Polka Band put on a great set. They played a number of songs off their CD and threw in a few classics with a polka twist (see the Brown Eyed Girl clip below). I can’t wait to see these guys again, hopefully as the full band. They were only a three-piece for this event. Overall the event was very enjoyable and will be one I will probably go back to next year. Being a weeknight makes it a little more difficult because I have to drive to the city, find parking AND have to go to work the next day but it is worth it. What can I say, it’s Oktoberfest season, and you have to take the good with the bad.

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More videos can be found here:

Backyard Oktoberfest YouTube Channel

2012 Backyard Oktoberfest Beer Tasting Party

Beer Tasting Party People

The beauty of running an Oktoberfest website is that there is always an opportunity for fun. The only problem with trying a number of different beers is that most beers come in no less than a six pack. What do you do with the extra beer? Have a tasting party of course!

This year I had twenty-two different beers for my friends to try. A large number I did not try in previous years. The setup for the party is actually relatively simple. All you need is cold beer and glasses to serve the beer in. That is the very basic but a number of things can be added to make the tasting party even better.

First off, I ran the tasting party as if I were a bar tender. I had four buckets set up with the beers in there and all grouped together nicely. I filled each bucket up with an ample amount of ice to insure that the beer would stay cold for the entire tasting. Each participant was given a packet with instructions on the history of Oktoberfest beer and a simple description of what a proper Oktoberfest/Märzen beer should look, smell and taste like. Each beer was to be given a rating from 1 - 10 on aroma, appearance, taste and mouthfeel. If the tasters were so inclined there was room for a written review that would be added to this site.

The beers were served in the order that the tasters wanted to try them. Most opted for starting from the beginning and going to the end. Some jumped around, mostly to try beers they have never had before. Each taster was given a small glass that was roughly 6 ounces big but each tasting portion was roughly 3 ounces. I bought bigger glasses to account for the extra room needed for the proper head to form. The glasses I bought were actually candle holders from Hobby Lobby and I was able to get them for 50 cents a piece which was a great deal. Avoid buying plastic glasses at all costs. The faint smell might get in the way of the tasting.

Beer Tasting Party Front View

In addition to the beer I served a number of different snacks that would not only help cleanse the pallet but also keep the tasters from getting too inebriated. I offered giant soft pretzels, hard pretzels, little sausages and cheese. There was also a lot of water so the tasters could cleanse their pallet as well as clean out the glasses. Even though all the beers were the same style, I insisted that the tasters rinse their glass after every beer to ensure that the previous beer would not affect the next beer.

In my opinion, the best way to run the tasting is to have a dedicated person pouring the beer. I did that for my party and things ran very smoothly. Also, it insures that each person gets the correct pour so as not to over pour and have others miss out on trying a beer because they are all gone. This also helps make sure that each glass will have the right amount of head to bring out the aroma and flavors.

One downside to the tasting is of course the price. Each six pack runs usually around $10 a piece and some beers can only be bought in larger cases. Donations from participants is recommended to help offset your cost (unless you want to be really generous). Another downside is your geographic location. I'm from Illinois and I have access to most of the international German beers, most widely distributed US beers and Midwest beers, including a couple that rarely make it out of Wisconsin. This made my tasting pretty easy and gave every one a broad scope of beers to try. Your location may vary your tasting experience. I did not have access to New Glarus Staghorn or Yuengling Oktoberfest because they are not distributed to Illinois and I did not feel like driving out of state for two extra beers. Maybe next year, or maybe I can have someone ship me some.

Beer Tasting Party People

One thing about beer tasting is it is very subjective. Someone may love one beer while everyone else hates it. Don't let that get to you. Write your honest opinion of a beer. Aggregate averages and overall scores just aid people to try and determine what beers they should buy. To that point though, go into the tasting with an open mind and try every beer, even if you didn't like it in the past. Who knows, they might have changed the recipe and now you may like it or maybe your pallet has changed. You never know until you try.

With everything above being said, the main point of a beer tasting is to have fun with your friends and try a number of different beers. I know I had a blast at my party and it makes me more likely to have one again next year.

The results from our tasting party, as well as a full list of the beers, can be found here:

2012 Backyard Oktoberfest Beer Tasting Results

It has been suggested that if you would like to truly rate the beers there should be a blind taste test so as to not have brand preference get in the way of tasting. I agree, but only if you want your tasting to really rank beers.

As always, I would love to hear your opinions. Have you run a tasting before? How did you do things differently? Where did you buy your tasting glasses from and how much did you spend? Please fill out your answers in the comment section below. I appreciate your input.

Best Oktoberfest Beers for 2012

As voted on by 14 tasters in the Backyard Oktoberfest beer tasting party. Below are the results of our tasting:

1Samuel Adams Octoberfest83.7%
2Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest79.2%
3Shiner Oktoberfest75.8%
4Spaten Oktoberfest74.7%
5Paulaner Oktoberfest73.6%
6Two Brothers Atom Smasher72.2%
7Capital Oktoberfest71.9%
8Boulvard Bob's '47 Oktoberfest70.1%
9Point Oktoberfest69.4%
10Great Lakes Oktoberefest69.2%
11Widmer Brother's Okto Festival68.6%
12Left Hand Oktoberfest67.3%
13Leinenkugels Oktoberfest66.9%
14Central Waters Oktoberfest66.3%
15Weihenstephaner Oktoberfest66.1%
16Warstiner Oktoberfest65.3%
17Lakefront Oktoberfest64.2%
18Magic Hat Hex Ourtoberfest63.8%
19Hofbräu Oktoberfest63.4%
20Hinterland Oktoberfest62.1%
21Victory Festbier57.9%
22Beck's Oktoberfest53.1%


What do you think of the results? Please leave us a comment below. If you would like to write your own review please follow this link: Submit a Beer Review

If you want to know more about the tasting check out this link: 2012 Backyard Oktoberfest Beer Tasting Party
Backyard Oktoberfest 2012 Beer Tasting