I woke up early Friday, October 7th, loaded up my car and headed north on the I-5. The destination: Chico, California and the second annual Sierra Nevada Brewing Company Oktoberfest. Being that I haven’t been to an Oktoberfest celebration in a while and that the event fit into my schedule (heading to Seattle on Sunday) I thought it was a no brainer to make the stop.
The drive north was rather uneventful with a large portion of the trip taking me across the expansive plains of central California. And by expansive I mean boring. The occasional mega-farm was the only sight to see (and smell).
In less than 7 hours I had arrived in Chico (the home of the Green Bay Packers’s Aaron Rodgers) and checked into my hotel. I had a few minutes to kill and used that time to update my Facebook page and inform the world that I had a few minutes to kill. The hotel that I booked was less than a mile and a half from Sierra Nevada, so I grabbed my ticket and started hoofing toward the beery goodness.
Twenty short minutes later and I was at the soggy grounds of Sierra Nevada Brewing. There had been some rain in the morning and the entire field was damp. This wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but it did makes things a little messy.
With my Sierra Nevada beer stein and my five taster tickets in hand, I made a beeline toward the beer vendors. Even though their website had stated there would only be six beers available there ended up being eight. For those of you with at least a first grade education you know that eight is more than six and in the world of beer events: the more beers the better.
My first choice was the NORTHERN HEMISPHERE HARVEST WET HOP ALE. I’ve seen the Sierra Nevada fresh hop beers around, but had never actually tried one. It was a great way to start out the day and I was glad to be drinking a hoppy beer while standing under the surprisingly warm California sun.
At this point I realized that I hadn’t had anything to eat since that morning and that getting food in my gut would potentially keep me from getting too drunk too quick. Thankfully with the purchase of my Oktoberfest ticket I was given a ticket for their “authentic German buffet”. Oktoberfest salad and German potato salad were a definite must have, but I was at an impasse when it came to my daily protein intake. I prefer to not eat beef or pork, but here I was faced with only beef or pork to choose from. Being has how pork is the “lesser of two evils” I decided to go with the Porter-braised brisket. It was good, but I didn’t eat too much.
With dinner finished I figured it was time for beer #2. SIERRA NEVADA OKTOBERFEST was obvious for my second choice. If you go to an Oktoberfest celebration and you don’t drink an Oktoberfest beer you are either one of two things: 1. Not a beer drinker. or 2. Not American…or would it be German? Anyway, I am neither of those two things, so with my stein of OKTOBERFEST in hand I headed in to the tent for some musical entertainment.
Keeping with the Oktoberfest theme, there were two “traditional” Oktoberfest bands. J.D. LIMELIGHT started off the evening with their blend of upbeat polka music featuring lyrics in both English and German. I must say I’ve never heard polka versions of Merle Haggard or the Beatles (with the latter being sung in German). Once they were finished “California’s only hardcore Polka band” POLKACIDE took the stage. Older guys rocking embroidered leather vests and mohawks played a punkier version of what J.D. Limelight had just warmed us up with.
At this point in the evening I was turned onto the glory that were the giant soft pretzels. Of course I had to have one and it complimented my OKTOBERFEST beer splendidly.
With my pretzels consumed and some punka (yes, I coined that term) playing in my ears I grabbed my tickets and picked up a glass of their OLD CHICO CRYSTAL WHEAT. This was the low point of the night and I couldn’t get through it fast enough.
I gulped down my OLD CHICO and went for one of the other beers I hadn’t had before. SIDE CAR AMBER was one of the other beer that’s not as readily available where I live. I picked up my stein and headed inside to watch a glass blowing demonstration. Interesting stuff.
Being that I had four steins worth of beer floating in my stomach I decided that might need some more food in my stomach. So I picked up another pretzel and since they were “paid for” with beer tickets, I figured I might as well grab another beer.
TUMBLR was my fifth and final beer of the night and the only one I did not take notes on. I just wanted to drink a beer, eat some pretzels, and watch the band MARCH FOURTH, who had just wandered on stage. They play an amped up version of marching band music that features steampunk extras from the Mad Max movies and stilt walkers. Think gypsy/carnival/punk marching band music. Very interesting and it definitely had everyone excited. People were dancing on tables and sloshing beer everywhere. A great way to end the night.
Knowing that I didn’t want a hangover to accompany me on my 11 hour drive to Seattle the next day I filled up my stein with water and headed by to the hotel.
Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest was a success and I went back to my hotel room happy.
Come back tomorrow for Day #2!