Observe Oktoberfest

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It’s near the end of October and you haven’t slipped on the lederhosen? What’s wrong with you, man?

It’s not too late to grab Oktoberfest. You’ll still find plenty of bottles at your favorite distributor or deli. This style is the best way for the tentative tippler to get a handle on the fuller taste of craft brews. It’s a lager, like Bud, only maltier and sweeter, and with little bitterness.

The authentic version is brewed, naturally, in Germany, where the beer is also called marzen, because it was traditionally brewed in March, then aged through the summer.

The Oktoberfest stacks at local distributors are dwindling, but last time I checked at Philadelphia Beer Co. (2525 E. York St., Port Richmond), they still had cases of Spaten Oktoberfestbier, Paulaner Oktoberfest, Samuel Adams Octoberfest and Beck’s Oktoberfest.

Look a little harder, and you may find two other of my favorites: Ayinger Oktober Fest-Marzen and Hacker-Pschorr Original Oktoberfest. Closer to home, our two Germanic brewers offer the style year round. Victory Festbier is almost smoky, and Stoudt’s Fest is an excellent buy at about 20 bucks a case.

Also, look for:

* Dock Street Marzen, on tap, at Dock Street Brew Pub (1150 Filbert St., Reading Terminal).

* Iron Hill Oktoberfest, at Iron Hill brewpubs in Media, West Chester and Newark, Del.

They’re not Oktoberfests, but two other autumn kegs are making the rounds:

* Sierra Nevada Harvest Ale is wet-hopped with fresh buds. It’s on several local taps, including O’Neil’s (611 S. 3rd St., near South Street).

* Flying Fish Blackfish is a mix of the Cherry Hill, N.J., brewery’s Porter and Extra Pale Ale. Its hops aroma alone blows away that nitrous oxide they’re snorting down at the Vet.


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