In the mood for some German fruited lager? It’s like a pilsner that’s “bombarded” with notes of prickly pear and blood orange.
“It’s crisp, dry and refreshing, but floral and fruity,” chief brewer Adam Burnett says. “It reminds me of the Southwest.”
That craft brew will be one of three available at this year’s Oktoberfest hosted by Eli Fish Brewing Company. Burnett has been at the brewing helm for the last four years, and involved with the traditional October celebration for the last three. After living in California for 15 years, Burnett didn’t get to experience many of the German-themed events, and this one’s been growing on him.
“It’s becoming (a favorite) … definitely one of the best days of the year,” he said during an interview with The Batavian.”
The fourth annual Oktoberfest has been scheduled earlier this year — at least one week before most fests begin — as a way for people to participate before other events get going. It’s set for 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday at Jackson Square in downtown Batavia.
“We’re excited to see if being one of the first ones brings the energy up even higher,” Burnett said. “Last year we had it at the end of the month, and some people said they had been to four others already.”
Founded in Munich, Oktoberfest this year runs from Sept. 17 through Oct. 3. According to Britannica.com, the festival originated on Oct. 12, 1810, in celebration of the marriage of the crown prince of Bavaria, who later became King Louis I, to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. But does anyone really care much about the origins of an event that’s filled with German food, beer, music and dancing?
And there will be all of those things, Burnett said. The Frankfurters, a band so popular it has to be booked two years out, will take the stage while its complementary dance troupe whoops it up. Promoted as “the best of the wurst,” the Buffalo performers are dressed to the nines — neuner in German — in lederhosen (leather shorts with suspenders) for the men and dirndls (short swingy dresses with ruffles or a half-apron and peasant-style blouses) for the women.
“It’s just wild, they’re so entertaining. It’s a hoot,” he said. “They’re very fun to watch, very engaging.”
The band is already booked for Eli’s 2023 festival due to its popularity, he said.
Burnett looks forward to pulling on his lederhosen and fully embracing the part, he said. In fact, one can expect Eli Fish staff to be dressed accordingly, he said, and attendees are encouraged to do likewise. Since there is so much activity in the Square — lively polkas, a beer tent and all — it is suggested not to bring a lawn chair to the event, he said. But do wear your dancing shoes.
Another beer at the event will be a standard amber lager and a festival German blond beer, “a step-sister to the amber,” Burnett said. Aged in an oak versus steel container, it has “a nice oaky” flavor, he said.
A 2003 Batavia High grad, Burnett is happy to be back home. He had been a professional brewer in Chicago for three years when Eli co-owner Jon Mager gave him a call. Burnett moved back and sees this gig as a long-term venture. He promises three stellar brews at the Square, with another 23 on tap inside Eli Fish at 109 Main St. It’s not much of a walk, just up the back steps from the Square.
Of course, there will also be bratwurst, huge pretzels and other German fare for the choosing, and some benches outside to grab a seat and a bite.
The mayor of Munich taps the first keg to open the festival every year in Germany, and the total beer consumption is nearly 75,800 hectoliters or about 2 million gallons. This weekend’s event may not reach that volume, but plenty of fun is to be had, organizers said.
Admission is $8 presale and $10 at the door, and each ticket includes one free beverage. There are a limited number of tickets, and Burnett advises buying them sooner than later. They may be purchased at Eli Fish or online.
Photo: Via The Frankfurters website.