If you've been outside today, you know it's hot. Not as beastly and humid as it was last week, but still sunny and around 90 degrees. It's gin and tonic weather. Hefeweizen weather. A day crying out for something fresh and a little zesty.
Why are we drinking Oktoberfest almost two months before its time?
Oktoberfest beer is a fall beer: it's malty, a bit crisp, a little filling. It's a harvest beer. It's not something you'd ever sip on a beach, or on Standard's – sorry, the Garden District's – patio during the dog days of summer. Not a chance. That would be like ordering red wine with fish.
Now, I know that out-of-season beers are not a new thing. I went on a rant last year after Christmas beers showed up in October. And I know they can be fun. I went to the Black Squirrel's Christmas in July party two Fridays ago, where they poured Great Lakes Christmas Ale and served holiday sugar cookies. Friends and I had a wonderful time.
It's just that seasonal creep – Halloween aisles in CVS immediately after back-to-school sales end; Santa showing up in stores the day after Halloween – seems to get worse every year. For the record: On the official Web site for Munich's Oktoberfest, the handy "Oktoberfest.de-Countdown" clock tells me there are 59 days, 20 hours and 17 minutes (and counting) until the first keg of Oktoberfest beer is tapped and the festival begins. Biergarten Haus, which sold nine different Oktoberfest beers last fall, is waiting until Sept. 21 before serving its first liter.
I like Sam Adams Oktoberfest. It's often one of my favorite Oktoberfest beers, besting brands from the old country. But there's no way I'd drink it in July -- even if it is $1 from 4 to 7 p.m.